Passover in the capital city of Jerusalem was bursting with religious ceremony and national fervor. This holiday marked our people being freed from slavery. This week marked when the one God named I_AM – showed up through Moses to kick ass, and to free his people! Decimating their oppressor’s superiority named “Greatness”, dominating their pantheon’s power and control… all the way up and down the Nile… and into the Red Sea …drop the mic.
In 29 AD, Jesus made a mess.
His own 12 year old voice echoed in his memory, “Didn’t you know?… I had to be in my Father’s house?” Those watching him thought it curious that he started picking up stray strips of trash (off the ground!)… until it became visible that he had constructed a whip!
He tore through the governmental and religious headquarters flipping tables, and files, while chasing the vendors out with a whip. With the sound of coins and hooves scattering, men and animals screaming in fear and offense – Jesus disciplined everyone there, “Take these things out of here! Don’t make my Father’s house your storefront!” The leaders and “experts on God” fought back with, “Who gave you permission to do this?”, he retorted, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.”
Later on that night;
A member of the nation’s top governmental council (Nicodemus) snuck off to ask Jesus some questions. Jesus introduced, “I tell you Truth’s truth; One cannot see God’s Kingdom without being born again (from above)”.
He asked how old people are supposed to be born twice, and started saying something about his elderly mom’s birthing process… when Jesus clarified Nicodemus’ search for a good question, “I tell you Truth’s truth; without being born of water and spirit, no one can enter God’s Kingdom. That which is born of The Flesh is flesh. That which is born of The Spirit is spirit. Don’t marvel because I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows where it wants to, and you hear its sound (but don’t know where it comes from, or where it’s going). So is everyone who is born of The Spirit.”
Nicodemus verified that he had no idea what Jesus was talking about by stumbling over figurative and literal truths (like any of us who have followed him for any time at all).
Jesus asked, “Are you Israel’s teacher, and don’t understand these things?
I tell you Truth’s truth; we speak about what we know, and testify about what we have seen (and you don’t believe us). If I have told you earthly things (and you don’t believe), how will you believe if I tell you eternal things? No one has gone up into eternal heaven, except the one who came down out of heaven – the Son of Man (who is in eternity).
Like Moses lifted-up the snake in the wilderness; in the same way the Son of Man must be lifted-up… that whoever believes in him does not have to die, but has eternal life.
For God loved the world so much, that he gave his only Son, so that anyone who believes in him doesn’t have to die… but has eternal life.
For God did not send his Son into the world to judge the world. Rather, so that the world should be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not judged. He who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.
This is the judgment; the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light (because their actions were evil).
- Everyone who does evil hates the light, and doesn’t come to the light (or else what they do would be exposed).
- But; whoever does the truth comes to the light, so that his actions may be revealed to have been done in God.”
Jesus and his followers left the city, and settled by some water in Judea. He spent his days there, with his crew baptizing more and more followers.
They were washing people who were turning from knowingly doing wrong… all the while… the one who John identified as, “stronger than I”, and “whose shoes I’m not worthy to loosen”, and “‘The-One’ who is going to baptize in God’s Spirit!” – was right downriver.
John publicly transitioned his authority with what could be our motto;
“He must increase;
I must decrease.”
This post includes all Jesus’ words from:
- “Jesus” is Greek for “Joshua”. His name (and it’s meaning) is a central theme across all Jesus’ teaching, but in order for the story to flow with understanding… Jesus was used rather than Joshua (even though Jesus is the Greek translation of Joshua). Clarity, rather than correctness, is the goal.
- God’s “kingdom” is God’s “perspective“. My people live with the concept of Kingdom meaning only a type of government or power expressed by the one in charge. The ruling Kingdom in this day consisted of one person’s perspective (and everyone under the king’s rule lived by his perspective, or could be killed). It was the King’s land that everyone was using, and all his citizen’s were his servants to command. That type of all encompassing authority over everyone’s experience is best culturally termed as a combination of “Power”, “Authority”, “Government”, “Standard” and/or “Perspective”. All that said, Kingdom is understood, and is the most accurate description of the realm of God’s Authority we all live within.
- “the changers of money” is replaced with vendors, because I know what those look like, and picture changers of money as the cages at a casino
- “place of business” culturally rephrased as “storefront“
- “zeal” is a beautiful word, and undervalued in our culture. So undervalued, that it doesn’t carry clarity required to appreciate the value of zeal. However, the deepest emotion our culture appreciates is “passion” – so that is closest for this purpose.
- “Most Certainly“ is the phrase used in this translation, but other versions use, “Verily, verily”, “Very Truly”, “Most assuredly”, etc.. The use of a repeated word used here would probably best be translated as “Amen, amen”, but since this word marks our modern Pharisaical trumpet (at the end of our prayers), it also is not an culturally understandable term. Amen is a confirmation of truth, and the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Truth. This Spirit was in Joshua after his baptism, and was planted here (through Joshua’s death), and now lives inside each of his followers. “Truth’s truth” is the cultural paraphrase used in this story. Feel free to look up Strongs #g281 (link to Blue Letter Bible)
- “that“ is replaced with “because“, because the end of this sentence isn’t, “that it was most grammatically correct”, but rather “because it should be clearly understandable”.
- “one cannot“ culturally paraphrased to “no one can“.
- “heaven” is what we call the biological sky, but it also refers to the construct of “eternity“; but both are used to identify a place we have no other name for, as well as a dimention outside of time.
- “of that which“ is culturally paraphrased to “about what“. Strongs #g3739 (link to Blue Letter Bible)
- “receive our witness“ culturally paraphrased as “believe us“. Not only would no one talk that way today (outside of a courtroom), but even though it reduces the number of words – it will be universally used in this story when these three words are in this order. The root words of this phrase are: Strongs #g2983 meaning “receive”, “take”, “have”, or “catch”, Strongs #g1473 references “ego” meaning “me”, or “myself”, and Strongs #3141 meaning “witness”, “testimony”, “record”, or “report”. These three words are used in our culture as “believe us”.
- “As“ is replaced with “like“, because like is our common term to compare (without sounding pretentious).
- “even so” culturally paraphrased as “in the same way“. In this setting the sentence is also arranged… less Yoda.
- “their works“ is culturally paraphrased with “what they do“. I hear my culture talk about our work… but never “their works” (outside of religion). This is something that we can’t define (with complete certainty), but “what we do” is clearly visible to all (in ourselves and others).
- “the teacher of Israel” culturally paraphrased using English’s grammatical process as “Israel’s teacher“.
- “that” is replaced with a semi-colon (“;”). It seems that getting rid of that “that” is the purpose of something like a semi-colon. It’s even spelled like an afterthought. It seems; semi-colons add clarity (too much? maybe).
- “should not” is culturally paraphrased as “does not have to“… and the following “have” becomes “has” (in both usages) View a few versions side by side, and check out the three words to make this phrase: Strongs #g622, then Strongs #g3363, and finally Strongs #g622 (yes the first and last word of this phrase are the same).
- “that they” was replaced with “to”. It makes sense and doesn’t complete confuse the point of what is being translated.
- In the second sentence of the fourth paragraph, I added a have… because he just finished telling Nicodemus “earthly things”. It seems to me to be a language thing, but I’m happy to get any insight on whether this is inaccurate in some way I don’t understand.
Bible Dictionary: a list of Bible words and phrases (typically Jesus’ words) which don’t have clear meaning when used in daily talk, and are simplified / culturally paraphrased in this story – in pursuit of understanding.
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