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earthly things; heavenly things

“If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you heavenly things?” [Jesus of Nazareth, Jerusalem, circa AD 30]           John 3: 12


The above sentence comes in the middle of a conversation with a member of the Sanhedrin – the combined legislature/judiciary/executive/church-council in Jerusalem – named Nicodemus.


A follower of the atheistic religion in Jersey recently went public on an issue that has confirmed his atheism: God hasn’t spoken to him directly; it’s always other people who try to tell him what God has to say to him.


What’s the answer to that? It’s really difficult to answer isn’t it?


Well (see above), Jesus’ conversation with this civic leader was about earthly things and about heavenly things. When Jesus spoke the above words he was clearly concerned that Nicodemus had not understood the earthly things he had already mentioned to him. This made it terribly difficult for Nicodemus to understand the heavenly things that he was about to say. The Greek for ‘heavenly’ is epouranimos = relating to infinite space.


Maybe Jersey atheists are like Nicodemus? Are they able to understand the “earthly things” that Jesus spoke about to Nicodemus? If so, are they then able to understand the heavenly things that Jesus wanted him to “believe”?


First, the earthly things. Jesus had stated that no man or woman is able to see or to enter the kingdom (realm) of God unless he or she has a new spirit. ‘Spirit’ in the original Greek = pneuma = the intangible life within every living man and woman. For me that means using this equation: from (Richard-Syvret-as-alive-today) subtract (Richard-Syvret-as-a-dead-body) = Richard Syvret’s pneuma. So Jesus said that everyone in the world needs a new pneuma – a new life and a new spirit – to enter God’s realm. Why?


The JEP and CTV (and The Times and BBC News 24) point to that need daily. The key issue is the self-centeredness and covetousness of every man, woman and child. That has led, from the dawn of time, to fights, to envy, to war. It is that which needs to be changed. A dinner party in heaven will have all present taking ample and lovely food from the centre (and from their own plates) and giving it onto the plates of others. A dinner party in a lower place will have all taking from the centre and from the plates of others so as to fill their own – and so as to ensure their own self-sufficiency forever. Jesus told Nicodemus that such pneumas would render unsustainable the realm of God.


Second, the heavenly things, the things of infinite space. Jesus said to Nicodemus that the only person who could speak authoritatively on such things was one who has been there. Given that no man had returned to earth from heaven (from ouranos = infinite space), he the Son of Man was the only one so qualified because he had come down from ouranos.


The message of Jesus was that the Son of Man, having come down from ouranos, would be “lifted up” for others. That ‘lifting up’, that exaltation, would be similar to the time when, around 1350 BC, a man named Moses had ‘lifted up’ on a pole a bronze serpent. The people then were walking through a wilderness, had complained about their situation and blamed God. In judgment, God had sent poisonous serpents whose bites were always terminal. But, on God’s instructions, Moses “lifted up“ the bronze serpent so that all the bitten who (merely) looked at it were saved from death – had their life preserved.


Jesus would be ‘lifted up’ in pain and death – so as to benefit others. How so? Well, Jesus told Nicodemus that the purpose of such an infinite-space-thing, a heavenly thing, was so that whoever then believes in (looks at­) the Son of Man who gave himself will be given aionios zoe (aionios = lasting for aeons of time; zoe = life, the life of God).


The heavenly message then is a message that describes the God of heaven (infinite space). He is like Jesus who died – totally selfless – and his realm is identical. No self-centred can see it or enter it. Will Jersey atheists, like Nicodemus, now understand what the plight of man is and what the nature of God is? Is it that illogical, that unintelligible?

 ‘The wind [pneuma] blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit [Pneuma].’ (Jesus to Nicodemus, around AD 30)
‘For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.’(Jesus to Nicodemus, around AD 30)
Richard Syvret

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