|Chapter 20||The Great Gospel of John|
Continuation of the discussion: Nicodemus fails to understand. [John 3: 13-15]
John 3:13: "And no man has ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man, who is in heaven.
John 3:14: And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up,
John 3:15: so that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life."
1. The Lord, 'Behold, no one ascends to heaven except the one who has come down from heaven, namely, the Son of Man who resides in heaven. And as Moses in the wilderness lifted up a serpent, thus also the Son of Man must be lifted up, so that all who believe in Him may not be lost, but have eternal life. Tell Me, do you understand this?'
2. Says Nicodemus, 'Dear Master, how could I understand it? You possess a strange kind of wisdom. As I mentioned before, it might be easier for me to read the ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs than understand your wisdom. I must now honestly admit that if I were not captivated by your mighty deeds, I would have to regard you as a fool or one who likes to play tricks, for no sensible man has ever spoken the way you do. But your deeds show that you have come to us as a teacher form God, and you must possess an abundance of divine might and wisdom without which no one is able to perform such acts.
3. And where the `one' is purely divine, also the `two' must be of God. Your deeds, dear Master, are divine and so must also be your teaching about the Kingdom of God on earth, whether I comprehend it or not. If I now, form a somewhat worldly viewpoint, look at the thesis, 'No one ascends to heaven, except the one who has come down from heaven,' namely, the Son of Man who resides in heaven, I am at a loss to understand. Dear Master, since Enoch and Elias hardly any man on earth would have been so fortunate as to visibly ascend to heaven. You may become the third. And if you perhaps do become the third, would that be of any use to all other men who, because they had not come down from heaven, could not ever attain to the heavens?
4. Besides, you said that the One who had come down from heaven is only apparently on earth, but in truth still in the heavens. According to this, for the present just Enoch, Elias and maybe late on also you would be the only ones to participate in the Kingdom of God that is to come, whereas all the other millions upon millions may lay themselves in their damp dark grave for all eternities and thanks to God's grace and mercy once more turn into earth and finally vanish.'
5. Dear Master, such a Kingdom of God on earth is declined with thanks by the poor earthworms who - ridiculous enough from every aspect - are called "men". Who does not know that this is how it is and has always been? One swallow does not make a summer, nor do three. What had Enoch done and what Elias that they were received into heaven form earth? Actually nothing else but what their heavenly nature made them do. Thus they had no merit, and according to your explanation just now, they were only received into heaven from the earth because, like you, they had come from the heavens.
6. Look, this offers poor mankind on this harsh earth very little hope and practically no comfort. But as I already told you earlier, this does not change the fact that I consider your teaching still divine and supremely wise, although, as I already proved in one of your assertions, looked at with the natural reason it is and must be plain folly, which you will realise as well as I do.
7. But what you mean with the lifting up of the Son of Man, similar to that of the brazen serpent of Moses in the wilderness and how and why all those are to have eternal life who believer in the serpent-like lifted-up Son of Man, that already borders on the parabolic, that is, on something that in itself is utter nonsense. Who is this Son of Man? - Where is he now? - What is he doing? - Does he, too, like Enoch and Elias, come from the heavens? - Is he still going to be born? What are people who have surely never seen him, like I, supposed to believe concerning this Son of Man; Ho can he come to this earth if he is still in heaven? Where is he going to be lifted up and when? Will he thereby become an invincibly mighty king of the Jews?
8. Look, dear Master, this surely sounds most peculiar from the mouth of a man who proves by his acts that he must be filled with divine power and might. However, as already said, I shall not let all this confound me and am still regarding you as a great prophet sent by God.
9. You may see from this that I am not one of those who promptly reject a teaching they do not comprehend. Therefore, I still ask you to give me a little more explanation, for as things are I cannot possibly understand you. - Look, I am much respected in the land of the Jews, especially in the City of Salem, where I am the head of all the Jews. If I introduce you and your teaching, this will be accepted and introduced whereas if I drop it, it will really be dropped and find no acceptance. Therefore, be good enough and give me a little bit more light.'
10. Say I, 'That was a lengthy discourse, and you have spoken like a man who knows nothing of heavenly things, But it cannot be any different, for you are in the night of the world and not inclined to see the light that has come from the heavens to illumine the darkness of the world's night. You do possess a slight gleam, but still do not recognise what is practically under your very nose.'
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