Acts 4:32-37; Ps 93:1-2,5; Jn 3:7b-15
What appears to the world as just bloody violence—the lifting up of Jesus on the cross—is for the eyes of believers the splendor in which the Lord is exalted. What appears as only weakness and failure is the robe of strength in which the Lord is girt. Such a transition from earthly things to heavenly things made all the difference in the community of believers, and created all the difficulty in the continuing dialogue between the Pharisee, Nicodemus, and the Son of Man.
The Paschal Mysteries continue to have an impact on the lives of the apostles and the community of believers. This early church was living a heavenly lifestyle on the earth. What seems impossible because of the limitations of our earthly perspective has become possible because of faith. None of them claimed anything as his own; rather, everything was held in common. The early church was caught up in the splendor of the Kingdom of God that they proclaimed. They were so united—of one heart and one mind, that their lifestyle gave witness to the new creation in Christ before they even had a chance to begin preaching. The power in their preaching flowed directly out of the respect that was paid to the community. Economic power was seen in the context of communal and individual needs. No one claimed that “it’s my money and I’ll do what I want”! Rather, self-interest died a bloody death and other interest rose up to govern communal life. The true son of encouragement—the Son of Man by his being lifted up—enabled the community of believers to live no longer for themselves but for God. Perhaps our witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus is weak because we have yet to be lifted up in the strength of his crucifixion and exaltation.
The sign and wonder, which the apostles and the early church were (as well as performed), is based on the testimony of the Son of Man who tells us of heavenly things. Jesus chided Nicodemus because he could not understand earthly things. He could not enter into the parable of the wind—something earthly yet mysterious, and therefore he could not enter into the mystery of the Spirit—something heavenly yet accessible. The wind is sensible, we hear it and feel it, yet still it is beyond our control and quite mysterious, we do not know where it comes from or where it goes. The One who came down from heaven knows the Spirit and reveals the Spirit in language that is accessible to educated or uneducated—unless either is so caught up in what makes sense that they do not go beyond what fits into a particular frame of reference. Such was the problem with Jesus’ dialogue partner. Such is the difficulty with many that seek Jesus today in the midst of darkness.