Jesus is life and gives life even in situations where everybody thinks that death has triumphed. He brings his friend, Lazarus, back to life after having been buried for four days. This last sign (miracle) Jesus does in the Gospel of John will lead to an intensification of opposition and the decision to kill him. The raising of Lazarus is a first sign of the reality which his resurrection after his own death will reveal fully. At the heart of today’s Gospel is the statement of Jesus to Martha: “I am the resurrection and the life, the one who believes in me, even if he dies will live; and whoever believes in me will never die. By raising Lazarus to life, Jesus shows that he is master even of death and can give to those who follow him a way of life that is more powerful than death.
This Gospel is found only in John’s Gospel. Jesus heals a man born blind. He is contrasted with the religious leaders, who see very well with their eyes, but are spiritually blind and in even greater need of healing. Jesus does not only give him back his ability to see. He restores him to a meaningful relationship with other people and with God, capable of participating more meaningfully in the worship of his people. The healing of the blind man, shows that real blindness is not so much the physical lack of sign, but rather the failure to believe that Jesus is the Anointed One (the Messiah) who has been sent by God. And there is much real blindness, starting with the disciples who think that the man is blind from birth because of some sin committed either by him or by his parents before his birth. His neighbors who hear that Jesus healed the man are not led immediately to seek him out and believe in him. Rather, they bring him to the Pharisees for questioning. For the Pharisees, the fact that the healing took place on the Sabbath was enough to discredit Jesus as a man of God. This Gospel reminds us during our Lenten journey that only Jesus can heal spiritual blindness. Jesus has to heal our blindness all the time.
Jesus says to Nicodemus, "Unless one is born from above he cannot see the kingdom of God." (v. 3) Nicodemus responds --"How can a man be born when he is old?" Jesus answered, "Unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit." (vs. 5-6) In these words, Jesus made the conditions for entering the kingdom clear. The kingdom of God is not entered by anything we do, but through a transformation brought about by God. We do not enter the Spirit's realm through our own efforts. We enter the realm of God's Spirit through the water of Baptism and the Holy Spirit's efforts. Baptism is the washing of regeneration -- rebirth. Through it, the Spirit adopts us as his own, bringing us under his dominion. Jesus offered Nicodemus and us the key to understanding. What is "heavenly" has come to earth: "the Son of man" (v.13). In the Son, God has come to earth and opened his heart and will to us. Perishing in spiritual confusion and death, we have only to look to Jesus to find life, as the smitten children of Israel looked to the bronze serpent erected by Moses as a sign of God's grace. Then the text leads naturally to the best loved passage of Scripture, John 3:16-17, the heart of the gospel. The Spirit of God is seeking you out to make you his own. The Greek word "anothen" (v.3) has a double meaning -- "anew" or "from above." Tragically, the "born again" movement of the 1960's interpreted "anothen" as "born again." The word "again" is used to describe how one can be accepted into the Kingdom without being baptized. However, according to the New Testament and this passage in particular, Jesus describes salvation as a gift of God's Spirit given through the "water and Spirit" of baptism alone and does not imply any "decision," or "will" on our part. This text is for Trinity Sunday because it declares God to "be one". As our Father, He is behind all the good that occurs. As the Son, He is the revelation of love. As the Spirit, He is bringing us a new and eternal life in His Kingdom.