Saturday, September 27, 2014

Word for the day by Christian Education Forum

Sacrament of Baptism 

John 3:1-8


Rev. K.E Geevarghese

Anaprampal MTC, India

The wind blows where it chooses, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”


Holy Baptism is one of the dominical sacraments instituted by Jesus Christ. Through this sacrament a person identifies himself / herself with the death and the resurrection of Jesus Christ, the head of the church. This unique experience enables one to receive the divine grace and to enter into the New Life.
 
John 3: 1-8 explains the visit of Nicodemus to Jesus and their conversation. Nicodemus was a religious leader and teacher of the law. He had recognized that Jesus has come from God (v.2). He was an admirer of Jesus, but was a secret disciple. Therefore he approached Jesus at night. On his visit, he validates Jesus as a divinely sanctioned rabbi. Yet his social and religious standing did not allow him to be seen openly with Jesus.
 
The keywords in this passage are ‘Kingdom of God’ and ‘Born Again’. Jesus responds to Nicodemus by telling him that he cannot see the Kingdom of God without being born again. The word used to denote ‘born again’ is an ambiguous Greek word ‘anothen’, which can be translated as ‘again’ or ‘from above’. Jesus says, one must be born from above to enter into the Kingdom experience. Nicodemus shows his attempt to understand Jesus based on what he already knows to be true, by ignoring the possibility of being born again (3:4). Jesus responded to this misunderstanding by highlighting the source of birth from on high, which is the spirit. ‘The wind blows where it chooses’ (v. 8), is an image of God in search of humanity, a vision of God’s decision to turn towards human beings, to search for us and to reveal God’s self to us. It is the nature of God to take the initiative in search of communion, to reveal God’s self as the source of all creation. Here Jesus affirms that entering into the Kingdom of God is not by an act of the flesh, but by the will of God.  It is a gift of God’s Spirit, unshaped by human hands but ‘blowing’ where it will ‘from above’. Here Jesus points us to an experience, which is beyond anyone’s control and is subject to the mysterious freedom of the spirit.
 
Holy Baptism is the sacrament through which we experience the new life in Christ. This is a new beginning, which leads us to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. Here the Holy Spirit brings transformation and guides us to all righteousness and truth. Thus the Kingdom of God becomes a reality in and through us. 

Prayer: Lord, enable us to be channels of righteousness, agents of transformation, subjects of the mysterious freedom of the spirit and witnesses of the new life in Christ. Amen. 

Thought for the day: It is a gift of God’s Spirit, unshaped by human hands but ‘blowing’ where it will ‘from above’.