ATP Blog #16 Heavenly Things
Have you heard the phrase, ‘He is so heavenly minded that he is of no earthly good.’? Perhaps the opposite is also true, ‘She is so earthly minded that she is of no heavenly good.’ In Jesus’ conversation with Pharisee Nic, He explains the interaction between the seen world, and the unseen Kingdom of God. To be ‘born again’ gives a person a different perspective on life (and death).
What is seen. ‘How can these things be?’ asks Nic. To be ‘born again’, as Jesus put it, was a new concept to the religious leaders of the day, that involved that which was unseen. Like many today, they wanted to only trust that which they could see. Jesus is reminding them of God, who is unseen, and the working of His Spirit, which is also unseen. Even though they are unseen, the work they do is seen. As a teacher of Israel, Nic (and the rest of the Pharisees) should have known this from their Scriptures, what we know as the Old Testament. Jesus gently reprimanded him for forgetting these concepts (v10), then further explains.
What is believed. Jesus had spoken clearly (in His preaching) of what He had seen regarding both earthly and heavenly things, but the spiritual leaders of Israel had chosen to not believe for various reasons. As with many religious leaders today, the scribes and Pharisees decided to pick and choose what they wanted to believe, and what they would ignore (like Isaiah 52-53). They wanted the ‘conquering hero’ Messiah, not the suffering servant. When evidence is presented, it must be examined with an open mind, and when proven to be true, it must be believed. The Pharisees were so busy hating Jesus, that they did not listen to what He had to say much of the time. This is why you have men like Nic and Joe, who stop and think for themselves, realizing that what Jesus was saying made sense, and was truth from God! Jesus challenges Nic to listen more carefully, as ‘You do not receive Our witness.’ (v11) They did not believe what He taught regarding the things of earth, so how were they to understand (never mind believe) what He would teach regarding the things of Heaven?
What is shown. What Jesus had taught would soon be backed up by a demonstration! He claimed that ‘No one has ascended to heaven, but He who came down from heaven, that is, the Son of Man who is in heaven.’ (v13) He is clearly stating to Nic that He (Jesus) is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that He has been to heaven to see God. In fact, He is the only one who has done so, other than the angels. So, if you want evidence, talk to the one who has seen the truth.
What is done. When the evidence is given for the truth, the one who receives the evidence is then responsible to make a decision about what to do with that evidence. We do not find out until much later how Nic responds. You, however, can and should make a decision. Jesus Christ is the only one who can lead you to the truth, because He is the truth, since He is from God, and is One with God. What will you do? Remember, to believe requires action and lifestyle change; it is not just head knowledge. It may be a comfort to know about God and His love for you, but it only really helps when you accept the gift of salvation through Jesus Christ, submitting your life to His control. Put Him in the drivers seat of your life, and you will get much better results (peace, joy, love, purpose, meaning ...). The heavenly things, which we cannot see, are real, and greatly impact how you think and live. Do something about it today ... as no one knows the day of their physical death.