When people learn I am a physicist/engineer and a pastor, they want to know how I reconcile faith and science.
Nicodemus had a similar problem. He wanted Jesus to balance demands of physical life against spiritual demands.
“How can a person be born when aged?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely he cannot enter into his mother’s womb a second time to be born!”John 3:4
Jesus had just told him that he must be “born over.” The Greek word that John used could mean either “again” or “from above,” much like the English word “over.” While ancient Hebrew or Aramaic lack a word with this ambiguity, good translators try to capture the sense of a conversation beyond a word for word translation.
The next answer that Jesus gave to Nicodemus continues that ambiguity. The Greek or Hebrew words for breath were also used for spirit, including the Holy Spirit, and for wind.
Jesus answered, “I tell ye the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Breath. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Breath gives birth to Breath.John 3:5-6
Did Jesus mean water of birth or the water of baptism?
Did Jesus mean a breath of air filling one’s lungs or the Spirit of God that fills one’s soul? Or merely the wind that blows where it chooses? For in the earliest manuscripts of John the same word is used in all three meanings, although modern English translations tend to use different words removing the ambiguity. I believe that John wanted us to hear all three meanings at the same time.
I will have more to say about John 3:1-21 at Temple Terrace Presbyterian Church at 8:15 a.m. and 10:00 a.m. on Sunday, March 8th.
Robert Shaw, Pastor
A Tip for Parents
Do you want your child to be loved by others? Teach them to bless other people. The world will teach them how to curse those who curse them and how to get even or get revenge. Learning to recognize the gifts of God in each person, even enemies, will make them a most favored person. Thus Abraham Lincoln asked, “Do I not destroy my enemies when I make them my friends?”