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‘That the World Through Him Might be Saved’
by Shelley Douglass
What does it mean to be saved? In John's gospel the question of sight is crucial. "Come and see!" Jesus invites. "You do not see!" he mourns. "We speak of what we have seen," says John's Jesus, "and you do not receive our testimony." Perhaps to be saved means to see anew, with this new sight given by a new birth.
Nicodemus, a leader of Israel, does not see or understand. He misses the point. "You are a teacher from God," he says. "We know, because we have seen your signs." What signs? Before this chapter in the gospel, Jesus has been baptized by John, has called some disciples, has attended the Cana wedding, and has cleansed the temple. Nicodemus, having alluded to these signs that are intensely pragmatic, ignores them for an abstract discussion about second birth. Why? Perhaps because these signs point to a vision he does not really want to accept: a vision of justice and compassion and of the doing of God's will before all else.
To be born anew through the Spirit means to begin to see with the eyes of Christ, not to condemn but to save. How many times do we look aside and ignore moneychangers in our temples because we don't want to be troubled? And how many times do we look with eyes of judgment rather than compassion at our sisters and brothers?
Shelley Douglass was a Sojourners contributing editor and lived and worked at Mary's House, a Catholic Worker community in Birmingham, Alabama, when this article appeared.
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