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Thursday, September 5, 2013

How did Jesus Witness to the Learned?

by Susan Fox

Nicodemus, a ruler of Jerusalem, nevertheless had to come to Him under the cover of darkness. 
 (John 3:1-21)  

The  irony is that he traveled through the darkness because he was drawn by the Light. For God sent the Son into the world, not to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. (Jn 3:17) Obviously, he'd seen some of
Christ's miracles, but he wasn't sure who Christ was -- the awaited Messiah perhaps? Or a prophet? He hoped that Jesus would explain his mission. But Our Lord replies in a completely unexpected way.

"Truly, truly, I say to you unless one is born anew, he cannot see the kingdom of God." This teacher of Israel had never heard of such a thing. How can a man come out of his mother's womb a second time?

Jesus makes it clear he is talking about a different kind of birth -- one accomplished with water and the spirit. In the Prologue of the Gospel, John makes it clear that all who received Christ were given this Baptism: the power to become children of God, children "who were born, not of blood nor the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God." (Jn 1:13) Baptism is new birth into a special relationship with God!

Nicodemus wants to know how this can be. Jesus answers by telling him He is God made man: "No one has ascended into heaven but he who descended from heaven, the Son of Man." Then He added that just as Moses took the poison of the serpent's bite from the people when he held up an image of the serpent in the desert, so the Son of Man shall remove the poison of sin when He is lifted up on the cross: "And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so will the Son of man be lifted up that whoever believes in him may have have eternal life." (Jn 3:14)

What a power packed interview. Christ meets the man who will someday help prepare his body for burial, introduces him to Baptism, explains this is accomplished through the Passion and Death of Jesus Christ, True God and True Man. "For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life." (Jn 3:16) And the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us. (Jn 1:14) 

What incredible Light has come into the world! Nicodemus by seeking out this Light under cover of darkness has already begun his journey to the Kingdom of God. Some men have loved darkness because their deeds are evil. "But he who does what is true comes to the light, that it may be clearly seen that his deeds have been wrought in God." (Jn 3:21) . . . Have you found the Light? 


  1. In the Bible, there are many events and conversations that the writers record even though there are no reliable witnesses to these events and conversations. In these cases, without much exception, I attribute these accounts to the imagination and creativity of the writer. If a writer wants to say that Jesus said something to someone, who's to stop him from writing it down?

    This is the way I view the conversation between Jesus and Niccodemus. It doesn't make it any less meaningful. But it does make it less authoritative.

  2. Bill, I am so happy you are continuing with us. I really like you. To that end I was discussing your problem with Santa Claus -- that's who you think I am using as a source, right? -- and his advice was this: "If you don't research this matter, you won't get your Christmas present this year." The Easter Bunny concurred: "Why doesn't he look at the eggs hidden in the back yard? The sources of Scripture and historical documents that support it." And the Tooth Fairy shouted: "He must WAKE UP! WAKE UP!" Then the Sandman blew in and said something about your head in the s____. Yours, tongue in cheek. Susan Fox

  3. Next Bill I hope your strong sense of justice and fair play helps you enjoy the following:


    God bless you. Susan Fox

  4. I see what you did there with Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny. You are poking fun at me by appearing to poke fun at yourself. All I was trying to say is that the Bible tells stories for which there are sometimes no eyewitnesses who would have conveyed the stories to others who eventually would have conveyed them to the writer. In those cases, it is much more likely that the stories were made up and passed along to the writer or even made up by the writer himself. The conversation between Jesus and Nicodemus is one such story.

  5. Bill, I'm serious now. If Larry developed a reading list to help you with this matter, would you take the time to read? You are wrong about the Bible and its inauthenticity. What we are saying is if you had more knowledge you would not feel this way. We did answer this in one of the conversation posts we had together, but, of course, we gave you nothing to read to change your mind. God bless you. Susan Fox

  6. Don't bother with the list. I have plenty to read as it is. I don't know how anyone can believe anything in the Bible that takes place with no witnesses such as private conversations. It doesn't matter. You can believe what you want to believe.

  7. Dear Bill, I hope you see the irony here. Your belief that Scripture is inaccurate is simply an act of faith. You believe it's not true, so it's not true. YOu have no proof. Whereas I have complete knowledge and have studied the facts that Scripture is a historical document, and the witnesses wrote it themselves. John and Matthew were two of the 12 disciples! They were both willing to give their lives to attest to the truth. If they had made the gospels up like a fairy tale, they would not have been willing to die for it. Mark followed Peter around, and got the facts from him, and Luke used the Mother of Jesus as a source as there are things in Luke that only Mary could know. Plus none of the four gospels contradict each other. Let me remind you of the two paragraphs in one of my previous blog posts (Same Sex Attraction is not a sin.)

    "Read the early Church Fathers. St. Peter and St. Paul were put to death under the Roman emperor Nero before 64 AD. That means that the Gospel of Luke and the Book of Acts were written before 64 AD because Luke himself tells us that he wrote the Gospel first and he ends the Book of Acts before Paul is put to death. Now that is 30 years from the Ascension of Jesus! Furthermore, Luke is borrowing from the Greek translation of Matthew, who recorded all the sayings of Jesus. Matthew was a tax collector. A tax collector had to keep good records or else the Romans would have put him to death. Long before 50 AD, Matthew's Aramaic sayings of Jesus are published! And Biblical scholars agree that Mark's Gospel, which is the shortest, is the first official translation of Matthew into Greek. And Luke only had that Greek translation from Mark when he wrote his Gospel -- before 64 AD.

    In addition, the number of sources to the whole New Testament is more extensive than any other writing of that era. These sources are written in Greek, Latin, Syriac, Coptic and some Aramaic, and yet they all agree. Each source also has its own history of veracity. Even if we had none of the New Testament, we could recreate it from the writings of the early Church Fathers -- beginning with the contemporaries of the Apostles, such as Polycarp, Bishop of Smyrna, and Irenaeus of Lyon, Clement of Rome and Ignatius of Antioch. God bless you. Susan Fox

  8. Ok. The possibility exists that John witnessed the conversation between Jesus and Nicodemus. But what about his conversation with Pilate where Pilate asks him "what is truth".

    How does anyone know what he said to the Father in the Garden of Gethsemini? There are accounts of conversations that no one else heard.

  9. Dear Bill, Do you remember the Roman Centurion, who said to Jesus, "Lord I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof." His sick servant was healed by Jesus. He very likely could have reported what happened at the interview with Pilate. He would have been very interested because Jesus had done him a great favor. Plus a lot of followers of John the Baptist later followed Jesus, and John had some Roman centurions following him. John the apostle was related to the Sanhedrin. He got into their meetings first hand. That's why he knew what took place after Jesus was seized. He got himself and Peter into that place (where Peter denied Jesus three times). He said he left (this is in Scripture) by looking at Jesus, and in his mind, he said, "Lord I wouldn't leave you alone but I need to go see to your mother." And at that point Jesus looked at him and nodded. It shows many times in Scripture that Jesus knew what people were thinking even if they didn't speak. The carrying of the cross? Simon the Cyrene, who helped Jesus carry the cross, is the father of two of the early Christians mentioned in Acts, Alexander and Rufus. But there were tons of witnesses that day. The people touched by Jesus followed Jesus and became the first witnesses of what occurred. Mary Magdeline, who had seven demons expelled from her, was the first witness to the resurrection. Nicodemus himself became a follower, and witnessed a couple of things. He assisted Joseph of Arimathea in Jesus' burial. And when the chief priests and Pharasees were meeting to seek a reason to murder Christ, Nicodemus was at the meeting and defended him:
    "Nicodemus said unto them (he that came to Jesus by night, being one of them),
    “Doth our law judge any man before it hear him and know what he doeth?”
    People were talking with one another about these events like crazy. Look at the secondary characters in the Bible who witnessed things and told the apostles (like Mary Magdeline who ran to them and told them she had seen the resurrected Christ) She is called the apostle to the apostles for this role. The two followers on the road to Emmaus encountered Jesus on the way -- they reported that encounter to the apostles. Anyway I was a newspaper reporter for 12 years, so to me the Bible seems like a very excellent work of journalism. And you can see people connecting with Jesus and later in Acts with each other. In LUke itself, you can see that he spoke to the Blessed Virgin Mary for some of his facts because no one else could have told him some of those things. And we know she lived nine years after Jesus' death. And remember in the first paragraph of the Gospel of Luke, he explains to Theophilus that is he putting together an orderly account of what Theophillus had already been given ORALLY. It was already in the Tradition, Luke is saying, you already know what happened. You've been told.

    And I've been in those stupid catechism classes where the idiot teacher tells you a statement and whispers it in your ear and you have to repeat it to the person next to you until it goes around to 20 people and when it comes back at the end it's not the same statement. But that is an exercise in stupidity and doubt. It totally doesn't relate to this account because we have so many different witnesses, different languages with verified histories on each account and they all agree. If a cat bit a dog, and it was reported in the newspapers, I could take clippings from three different papers and get basically the same facts, so why couldn't people in the time of Jesus -- seeing the incredible things that were done -- have reported accurately what they had seen. God bless you. Susan Fox

  10. Susan,

    You know Christianity inside and out. I would trust your response to any question I have. Thanks for your response to this and other questions I have. I can't state my doubts to my wife because she gets too upset. I'm glad I can discuss them with you.

  11. Thank you Bill! You are my muse for new articles. I work better with a live person with whom to cross swords. I honestly by myself could never think of the objections that you bring forth. God bless you and your wife. Being forced to answer helps me learn my faith better. Susan Fox

  12. Susan,

    I've been in this rut and I thought that maybe I should write to you and get some advice. I've had this one single, massive psychological problem that had a definite beginning in Catholic elementary school and has never fully departed from me. Now, you must remember that I am an atheist. Otherwise, I would turn to Jesus for assistance. I'm trusting that, even though you attribute your talents to God, I don't necessarily have to believe in God myself in order to benefit from your help.

    Everything I've been taught as a Catholic, I still feel as part of the way I think. For example, it still seems like a demon is possessing me and affecting everything I think, do and say. I still believe in the seven deadly sins that can ruin my life, even though I don't believe in an afterlife that they would also have an impact on. I still feel like I need to be "saved", not from death and hell, but from my bad habits, which I myself am helpless to overcome.

    So, here is my "problem": When I was in the eighth grade, I developed an attitude that I didn't want adults telling me what to do. In particular, I refused to do any homework assignments. At times, I couldn't even focus on writing the assignment down, let alone do it. It upset my mother and she would stand over me at the kitchen table and yell at me to just do it. My hand would tense up to the point that I couldn't hold the pencil and write. I'm getting that feeling now, 50 years later.

    In school, I would be severely verbally abused and called "Baby Billy" by the nun in front of the whole class and she even made me go back and sit with the seventh grade one day and maybe longer. I forget if it was for more than just that one day. It never had the desired effect of making me do my homework. It gave me a feeling that there is something wrong with me, a feeling that has never fully departed. When I get in this rut, I tell myself that I am being Baby Billy and the sooner I break the spell, the better off I will be.

    The problem went away when I got to high school and then my mother died in my sophomore year. I got through high school and college and married and had kids. Baby Billy takes over my body from time to time and he has been holding on to me longer and longer to the point that I am now collecting a disability for depression and I can't stop sitting at the kitchen table drinking coffee. I feel my mother's presence and am comforted that she is present even if she is yelling at me. To make matters worse, my wife has to nag me to get things done around the house. I know you probably think I shouldn't be receiving assistance from social security because I still have a few more years before I would receive it without the disability.

    So. What do you think? Any advice other than praying about it. I used to go to Eucharistic Adoration for help when I believed but it didn't do any good.

  13. Dear Bill, I'm sorry I had my response ready to put in comments, but Comments won't accept it because it is too long. I will have to answer you in the blog itself in the next post. Susan Fox

  14. Dear Bill, The answer to your question is now in a new blog post, called "What do we do when God does not seem to answer our prayer?"

    I really tried to hide it here in comments, but there must be somebody else who can benefit from my answer, for I was literally forced to put it here in the blog. Susan Fox