Christ Instructing Nicodemus Jacob Jordaens (1593-1678)
...."Master, here is Nicodemus" says John going in first.
They greet one another, then Simon takes John and goes out of the kitchen, leaving the two alone.
"Master, forgive me if I wanted to speak to You in secret. I do not trust many people with regard to You and myself. I am not acting entirely out of cowardice. It is also prudence and the desire to be of greater assistance toYou, than if I belonged to You openly. You have many enemies. I am one of the few here who admire You. I sought Lazarus' advice. Lazarus is powerful by birth, he is feared because he stands high in the favor of the Romans, he is just in the eyes of God, he is wise by matured talent and learning, he is a true friend of Yours and mine. Those are the reasons why I wanted to speak to him. And I am happy that he came to the same conclusion as I did. I informed him of the last... discussions at the Sanhedrin about You."
"The last accusations. Tell the plain truth."
"The last accusations. Yes, Master. I was about to say: "Well, I am one of His followers, too" so that at least one would be in Your favor in that assembly. But Joseph, who was beside me whispered: "Be quiet. Do not let us disclose our thoughts. I will explain later." And when we came out he said: "It is better that way. If they know we are His disciples, they will keep us in the dark about their thoughts and decisions, and will be able to harm Him and us. If, instead, they think that we are only inquiring into His life, they will not resort to subterfuges. I realised that he was right. They are so...wicked! I also have my interests and my duties...and Joseph has his... You understand, Master..."
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"I do not reproach you in any way. I was saying that to Simon, before you came here. And I have decided to go away from Jerusalem."
"You hate us because we do not love You!"
"No. I do not hate even My enemies."
"You say so. It is true. You are right. How sorrowful for me and Joseph! And Lazarus? What will Lazarus say, who today had decided to let You leave this place and go to one of the houses he owns in Zion. Lazarus is a very wealthy man. A large part of the town belongs to him as well as much land in Palestine. His father, to his own wealth and to Eucheria's, who belonged to Your tribe and family, added the reward of the Romans to their faithful servant, and he bequeathed a very large heritage to his children. And what matters more, a veiled but potent friendship with Rome. Without it, no one would have saved the household from abuse, after Mary's disgraceful behavior, her divorce, which was granted to her only because of her position, her licentious life in that town which is his domain, and in Tiberias, the elegant brothel which Rome and Athens have turned into a prostitution bed for many of the chosen people. Truly, if the Syrian Theophilus had been a more convinced proselyte, he would not have given his children the Hellenistic upbringing which kills so much virtue and disseminates so much voluptuousness, and which, imbibed and expelled without any consequence by Lazarus and especially by Martha, infected and proliferated in the dissolute Mary and made her the disgrace of her family and of Palestine! No, without the powerful shelter of the favor of Rome, they would have been anathematised more than lepers. But since the situation is such, take advantage of it."
"No. I am going to withdraw. Who want Me will come to Me."
"I should not have spoken!" Nicodemus is depressed.
"No. Wait and be convinced" and Jesus opens a door and calls: "Simon, tell Nicodemus what I was saying to you when he arrived."
"That the shepherds are sufficient for the humble people, Lazarus, Nicodemus and Joseph with Chuza for the mighty ones and that You are going away from Jerusalem without leaving Judaea. That is what You were saying. Why do You ask me to repeat it? What has happened?"
"Nothing. Nicodemus is afraid I might be going away because of what he told me."
"I told the Master that the Sanhedrin is more amd more hostile, and that He ought to put Himself under Lazarus' protection. He protected your property because Rome in on his side. He would protect also Jesus."
"It is true. It is good advice. Although my caste is disliked also by Rome, a word of Theophilus saved my property during my proscription and my leprosy. And Lazarus is very friendly to You, Master."
"I know. But I have decided. And I do what I said."
"We are going to lose You, then!"
"No, Nicodemus. Men of all sects go the the Baptist. Men of all sects and positions will be able to come to Me."
"We came to You because we knew that You were greater than John."
"You may still come. I will be a solitary rabbi like John, and I will speak to the crowds willing to hear the voice of God and capable of believing that I am that Voice. And the others will forget Me. If they are at least capable of that."
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"Master, You are sad and disappointed. And You are right. Everybody listens to You. And they believe in You so much that they obtain miracles. Even one of Herod's men, whose natural goodness must be corrupted by that incestuous court, even Roman soldiers believe in You. Only we in Zion are so hard... But not everybody. You know... Master, we know that You have come from God, that You are His doctor, and there is none greater than You. Also Gamaliel says so. No one can work the miracles that You work unless God is with him. Also learned people like Gamaliel believe that. Why then can we not have the same faith as the humble people of Israel? Oh! Tell me. I will not betray You, even if You should say to to me: 'I lied to corroborate My wise words with a seal that nobody can deride.' Are You the Messiah of the Lord? The Expected One? The Word of the Father, incarnate to teach and redeem Israel according to the Covenant?"
"Are you asking that by yourself, or have others sent you to ask it?"
"By myself, Lord. I have a storm and a torment within me. Contrasting winds and voices. Why do I, a mature man, not have the peaceful certainty that this fellow has, although he is almost illiterate and a boy, the certainty that gives such a smile to his face, such light to his eyes, such sunshine to his heart? How do you believe, John, to be so certain? Teach me, son, your secret, by means of which you were able to see and understand that Jesus of Nazareth is the Messiah!"
John becomes as red as a strawberry, he then bends his head, as if he were apologising for saying such a great thing, and replies simply: "By loving."
"By loving! And what about you, Simon, an upright man, on the threshold of old age, you, a learned man, so tried as to be induced to fear deceit everywhere?"
"Loving! Meditating! I also love and meditate and I am not yet certain!"
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Jeus cuts in saying: "I will tell the true secret. They knew how to be born again, with a new spirit, free from all ties, virgin of all ideas. And they therefor understood God. If one is not born again, one cannot see the kingdom of God nor believe in its King."
"How can a man be born again? Ejected from his mother's womb, man cannot go back into it. Are You referring perhaps to reincarnation, in which many pagans believe? No, it is not possible of You. In any case it would not be going back into a womb, but a reincarnation beyond time. That is, not now. How?"
"There is but one life of the body in the world and only one eternal life of the soul beyond the world. Now I am not speaking of the flesh and blood, but of the immortal spirit, which is born to true life by means of two things: through water and the Spirit. But the greater is the Spirit, without Whom water is but a symbol. He who has been cleansed through water, must then purify himself through the Spirit and through the Spirit he must become inflamed and shine, if he wishes to live in the bosom of God here and in the eternal Kingdom. Because what is born of the flesh, is and will remain flesh, and dies with the flesh after serving it in its carnal lusts and sins. But what is born of the Spirit is spirit and it lives going back to the Spirit of which it was born, after bringing up its own spirit to the perfect age. The Kingdom of Heaven will be inhabited only by those beings which have reached a perfect spiritual age. Do not be surprised, therefor, if I say: 'It is necessary for you to be born again.' These two knew how to be born again. The younger subdued the flesh and caused the spirit to revive by putting his ego on the stake of love. All matter was burnt. From the ashes there arose his fresh spiritual flower, a wonderful helianthus that turns towards the eternal Sun. The older one laid the axe of honest meditation to the root of his old way of thinking, he uprooted the old plant leaving only the shoot of good will, of which he caused his new thoughts to be born. He now loves God with a new spirit and sees Him. Everybody has his own method of reaching the harbor. Every wind is good providing one knows how to unfurl the sails. You feel the wind blowing, and according to its direction you can adjust the brails. But you cannot tell where the wind comes from, neither can you call the one you need. Also the Spirit calls and It comes calling and passes by. But only who is alert can follow it. A son knows the voice of his father, the spirit knows the voice of the Spirit of which it was born."
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"How can that happen?"
"You, a teacher in Israel, are asking Me? Do you not know these things? We speak about and witness to what we know and have seen. Now, then, I speak about and witness to what I know. How will you ever be able to believe what you have not seen, if you do not believe the witness I am bearing to you? How can you believe in the Spirit, if you do not believe in the Incarnate Word? I have descended to ascend again and take with Me those who are down here. Only One descended from Heaven: the Son of Man. And only One will ascend to Heaven with the power to open Heaven: I, the Son of Man. Remember Moses. He raised a serpent in the desert to heal the diseases of Israel. When I am raised, those who are now blind, deaf, dumb, mad, lepers, ill because of the fever of sin, will be cured and whoever believes in Me will have eternal life. Also those who believe in Me, will have that blissful life. Do not bend your forehead, Nicodemus. I have come to save, not to lose. God did not send His Only-Begotten Son into the world so that those in the world might be condemned, but that the world might be saved through Him. In the world I have found all the sins, all the heresies, all the idolatries. But can the swallow flying swiftly over dust soil its feathers with it? No. It only takes along the sad roads of the earth a particle of the blue sky, and the scent of the sky, it utters a call to rouse men and make them raise their eyes from the mud and follow its flight which returns to the sky. I do likewise. I have come to take you with Me. Come!... Who believes in the Only-Begotten Son will not be judged. He is already saved, because the Son speaks in his favor to the Father and says: "He loved Me." But it is useless to perform holy deeds, if one does not believe. He has already been judged because he did not believe in the name of the Only-Begotten Son of God. Which is My Name, Nicodemus?"
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"No. Savior. I am Salvation. He who does not believe in Me, rejects his salvation and is judged by the eternal Justice. And this is the judgement: 'Light was sent to you and to the world, in order to save you, but you and men preferred darkness to light, because you preferred evil actions, which were customary to you, to the good actions He pointed out to you, that you might follow them and be saints.' You hated the Light because evil-doers love darkness for their crimes, and you avoided the Light that it might not illuminate your hidden wounds. I am not referring to you, Nicodemus. But that is the truth. And the punishment will be proportioned to the judgement, both for individuals and for communities. With regard to those who love Me, and practice the truth I teach, and are therefor born in their spirits a second time, by a more genuine birth, I say that they are not afraid of the light, on the contrary they go towards it, because their own light increases the light by which they were enlightened, a reciprocal glory that makes God happy in His children and the children in the Father. No, the children of the Light are not afraid of bing enlightened. Nay, in their hearts and by means of their deeds they say: 'Not I, He, the Father, He, the Son, He the Spirit, have worked the good in me. Glory be to them, for ever.' And from Heaven replies the eternal song of the Three Who love one another in their perfect Unity: 'Eternal blessing to you, true son of Our will.' John, remember those words when the time comes to write them. Nicodemus, are you convinced?"
"Yes, Master, I am. When will I be able to speak to You again?"
"Lazarus will know where to take you. I am going to him before going away from here."
"I am going, Master. Bless Your servant."
"My peace be with you."
Nicodemus goes out with John.
Jesus addresses Simon: "Do you see the work of the power of Darkness? Like a spider, it lays its snares and entangles and imprisons who does not know how to die in order to be born again like a butterfly, so strong as to tear the dark cobweb and go beyond it, carrying on its golden wings pieces of shining network as a souvenir of its victory, like oriflammes and banners taken from the enemy. To die to live. To die to give you strength to die. Come, Simon, and rest. And God be with you."
It all ends.
Written by Maria Valtorta, February 24, 1945
Excerpted from POEM OF THE MAN-GOD, Volume #1, pp. 621-626
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