The Introit p. 16
The Gloria Patri
The Kyrie p. 17
The Gloria in Excelsis
The Salutation and Collect p. 19
The Epistle and Gradual
Praise be to Thee, O Christ!
The Athanasian Creed p. 53
The Sermon Hymn #251 We All Believe in One True God
Nick at Night
The Lord's Prayer p. 27
The Words of Institution
The Agnus Dei p. 28
The Nunc Dimittis p. 29
The Benediction p. 31
The Hymn #657 Beautiful Savior
| By Norma A. Boeckler|
|By Norma A. Boeckler|
Two Categories of Biblical Studies.
More details on the same subject.
Today's text is a good example of what I wrote before - Nick at Night - and a recently conversation made me think of it even more. The problem is this - people talk about the Bible without discussing the content of the Scriptures. The recent example concerned whether Matthew or Mark was written first and arguments about that topic, a subject I researched with all the best scholars, live and in print. Yale Professor Paul L. Holmer summarized it as remaining in the "about" mode - always rehearsing old arguments. Professor Lawrence Toombs (archeologist) called it "mixing the paints on the palette and never painting the picture."
The real meaning of the four Gospels is seeing them as a whole, not trying to prove something that lacks definitive evidence, especially when someone says, "Matthew was trying to do this..." or "Luke wanted to offer this message." The worst example is the group of scholars who cannot imagine the Apostle John writing the Fourth Gospel, so they give that Gospel no credibility. It was written so late, 300 years after Christ. So why do you say that? "Because Jesus never saw himself (Himself) as the Son of God. And - the text is soooo Hellenistic, and so philosophical."
The Fourth Gospel is precise about geographical details, showing knowledge of the area. The text is tied to the Books of Moses, not the philosophers of Greece. The earliest fragment of the New Testament is dated around 100 AD, so it could not have been written centuries later, according to their own experts.
The topic in John 3 is - how could Nicodemus know so much and still not know? We have many examples, religious and scientific, of people who accumulate a large body of publications supporting an idea without really examining it well.
For example - I can "prove" that the Church has always taught the Assumption of Mary and her Immaculate Conception, if you give me some time in a Vatican library. I used one in Columbus, Ohio for Catholic, Lutheran, Protestant. I can pick those sources that say, "those dogmas have always been taught by the Church." The section on Mary at that library was enormous. As Edward Preuss said when he became an influential Catholic editor, after teaching at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis - "Give me the sources and I can prove anything."
WELS has 60 or more essays that teach Justification without Faith, the opposite of what this Gospel lesson teaches. These sectarians can be funny, sometimes copying another's work and presenting it as original. They quote each other and never examine the actual texts or arguments. Yet "Justification" is clearly their favorite topic. They spend most of their time mixing paint, quoting only the recent officials who agree with them, always in the "about" mode, never teaching the Word.
Nick at Night
KJV John 3:1 There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews: 2 The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him.
Here we have a perfect example of a holy man of his day, and he is quite sincere. He is a strict follower of the Law - a Pharisee. His name is Nicodemus, and he is a leader among the Jews. We do not know exactly why he came to Jesus by night, but it is likely from his responses to Jesus that he was a cautious in his approach, though he has the best possible attitude as a Jewish leader.
Nicodemus' opening statement is friendly and admiring. He gives Jesus credit for coming from God since the miracles show God has chosen Jesus. The beginning seems to be very promising with this warm confession. But just the opposite develops.
3 Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.
Jesus' response is curt and hard, difficult to explain in light of Nicodemus' warm introduction and his desire to speak with Jesus. But this is not the way to convert people, most televangelists would say. Be friends, be winsome. Either market the message to their felt needs so they clamber into the Kingdom - or use logic so they have to concede it is the truth.
Jesus is saying, "You are completely wrong." His first response starts far away from Nicodemus, alienates and confuses the Jewish leader. "Except a man is born from above" - and Nicodemus clearly is not, so Nicodemus cannot see the Kingdom of God.
Notice they are discussing this in Greek, contrary to many claims they were using Aramaic. This is a Greek word-play. The word used by Jesus has the primary meaning of "from above" - anothen. εαν μη τις γεννηθη ανωθεν ano = above; then = from. anothen - from above.
The secondary meaning of the word is - "again", but that meaning for the Greek word is rare. Nicodemus is missing the obvious in favor of the obscure meaning. palin is used in Greek for "again." As in palindrome - Otto, Bob, A man a plan a canal Panama.
This is God revealing His truth to Nicodemus, and all this truth was already recorded in the Scriptures, in Hebrew and translated into Greek. Nicodemus certainly knew Psalm 22 and 23, plus Isaiah 53. But he knew the outward message but not the truths revealed there. Likewise, Isaiah 7 and 9.
Therefore, how much attention today is also paid to the obscure and the imaginary, ignoring the plain-spoken truths of the Scriptures? The early Nicodemus meaning is still followed by many - "You must be born again," meaning "You must have an adult conversion experience and give us the place, time, and circumstances."
Jesus means "born from above." Jesus uses the term "from above" because so much of the Gospel concerns His incarnation, coming down from above, His resurrection, and His Ascension, His return to the Father's throne. This harmonizes with the manna from above, Jesus being the Bread of Life coming down from above, John 6.
We should always keep in mind that this dialogue is summarized in John 3:16ff.
Seeing the Kingdom of God is another way of saying that someone believes in Jesus as the Savior, understanding forgiveness, love, and salvation. That should sober up those who play with Scriptural words - You must believe as a child... Unless one believes as a child, he cannot enter the Kingdom of God. Those plain words ban the people who adore their own philosophical and rationalistic expressions, if they lack a child-like faith. They would reverse this and say, "Enough of that child-like faith. You must follow the zigs and zags of my reasoning and pause to admire my wisdom."
4 Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother's womb, and be born?
Instead of becoming part of Nicodemus thinking, Jesus has challenged the leader with divine teaching. The Pharisee is so knocked off his base that his answer is absurd in telling Jesus His answer makes no sense. In debate, this is called a Straw Man - you are telling me this absurd statement, put in other words, so it cannot be so.
In this Nicodemus represents all of mankind in trying to turn the Gospel into something else. In cinema, the only fair portraits of Jesus are those that only use the words of Scripture. The fancy scripts are the absurdities.
5 Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.
Now that Jesus has vacated the false understanding of Nicodemus, He begins to fill the empty spaces with the Gospel. Nicodemus has an advantage, as Paul noted in Romans 3. He has the Promises of God, but he cannot see them clearly.
The verily, verily introduction means we should pay close attention to these words. Unfortunately, English splits what is bound together by the lack of the article. As Lenski says, that lack of an article creates a hyphen:
- I am not ashamed of the Gospel, it is the God-power of salvation for those who believe... Romans 1:16
- Except a man be water-Spirit born, he cannot enter into the Kingdom of God.
|By Norma A. Boeckler|
This great miracle, which seems so odd by itself, was the preparation for the Atoning death of Jesus (likewise the sacrifice on Mt. Moriah, Genesis 22).
The Son will become sin to pay for the sins of the world, just as the serpent figure turned back the deadly toxins that came from their sinful rebellion.
66. Now, he introduces a beautiful allegory from Numbers 21:6-9, which aptly depicts Christ. When the Jews were journeying in the desert, the way being long and bread and water failing, they murmured against Moses and became very impatient. Then it was that God sent fiery serpents among them, which bit the people. In the countries toward the South there are great deserts, where no food nor drink is found, and there are also multitudes of noxious vermin. The serpents on this occasion were a particularly vicious kind, for their bite caused such fever and such an unquenchable thirst that people had to die. For this reason they are called fiery serpents, such as the Greeks called Dipsades. There may, however, be another reason for the term, for we read that some of the serpents in those countries are so fiery that when they hiss or give forth breath, there issues, as it were, sheer fire from them.
67. On account of this cruel affliction of the Jews there was much pitiful crying and calling among the people to Moses, but he could give no advice until God took pity upon them and said to Moses: Make thee a brazen serpent, like those which are biting the people, and set it upon a standard.
Every one that is bitten, when he seeth it, shall live. “And Moses,” so the story runs, “made a serpent of brass and set it upon the standard, and it came to pass that if a serpent had bitten any man, when he looked unto the serpent of brass, he lived.”
68. Behold now, how Christ has been typified in this story. In the first place, the main point is that the Jews, when bitten by serpents, could find no aid not remedy until they were helped by looking at such a simple thing as the brazen serpent. This serpent had the appearance of a real serpent, but it was dead and without venom, yea, it was salutary. Not that the brass could help them; what made it efficient was the fact that there was affixed to it God’s order and this promise: Whoever is bitten and looks at the serpent, shall live. This word was wrapped about the serpent, and by virtue of it the serpent helped the people.69. Now, Christ makes application to himself and says: “As Moses lifted up the serpent, even so must the Son of man be lifted up” etc. This is the true explanation and interpretation of this allegory, or figure: We, too, have been stung or bitten by the deadly fang of the devil, which is sin. As St. Paul says, sin is a fiery, poisonous bite, or sting. If the poison enters the conscience, there is never any rest. Sin hurls against us and sets upon us death; death drives man, causing him to feel that he is in a veritable hell.
|By Norma A. Boeckler|