‘Probing Deeper’ Meditations: 23. Revelation?
Jn 3:4“How can someone be born when they are old?” Nicodemus asked.”
For the Christian ‘knowing’ is something different. You can know ‘facts’ but knowledge and understanding are different things and wisdom is again something different. It is clear from Jesus’ talks with his disciples – and even more clear with his talking to the crowds – that so often he was using words which left the listeners wondering. Even his parables were open to questions.
Nicodemus is one such person who heard Jesus’ words but struggled with understanding. Our starter verse is such an example and a bit later we find him asking, “How can this be?” (v.9) He is struggling to understand what Jesus is teaching him. Jesus is using words out of their usual context and Nicodemus finds that difficult. It is interesting that the subject matter of what Jesus is speaking about – being born of the Spirit – is at the heart of understanding. Nicodemus – and us – needed the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit that Paul spoke about in yesterday’s verse; he needed revelation.
Put most simply ‘revelation’ is knowledge and understanding that could not be known otherwise, being communicated by God. Paul, speaking to the Corinthians declared, “we declare God’s wisdom, a mystery that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began,” (1 Cor 2:7) and went on to explain that everything he taught came with the Holy Spirit’s revelation and had to be received with the help of the Spirit.
There is a deception that the enemy seeks to get us to believe – that revelation is for clever people. No it’s not, it for open-hearted people. Nicodemus was clever, a leading Pharisee (and they were well taught) but he ‘couldn’t see it’. He needed the Holy Spirit to teach him about His work. Nicodemus needed his heart enlightening as we saw yesterday. How do you start ‘seeing’ more? Spend more time in His word. Five minutes early morning is not enough! Cry out in prayer more, show the Lord you are hungry and thirsty. Determine to be available and obedient – the two criteria that reveal love for God. He loves to share with such people.
There is a shallowness of knowledge and understanding in many churches because preachers fail to meditate on God’s word and spend time in God’s presence. There has been a loss of confidence in God’s word in many and that will only be reversed as more and more of us spend more time in His word and in His presence. When that happens we will become convinced of the truth and the power of both the word and the Spirit and the church may come alive in a new way.