John 3:1-17 Dangerous Secrets
We all have secrets in our lives. Family secrets. Friend secrets. Work secrets. Marriage secrets. Adoption secrets. IVF secrets. Nuclear secrets. Tumour secrets. Cancer secrets. Criminal secrets. Even inner secrets we try to keep from ourselves. You know? It’s a long list, to be sure. And some secrets sometimes covered in white lies.
She had followed him in her car to Vue Cinema. Mindful not to be seen, she kept a distance from her husband as he purchased a ticket for the new Marvel Comics movie. He then purchased Haribo gummies and a soda. She waited until he walked out of the theatre after 2 hours. “Where is she?” she said. The husband was startled. Shocked. Floored. “Where is she?” She did not want to make a scene but she had trouble controlling here volume. There is no she. No other woman. The wife saw that he was telling her the truth. She said, “You mean you lied to me about going to poker night with the guys and instead you came by yourself to watch the new kids’ movie?”
After a pause he said, “Well, sometimes the bills, the kids, the travel gets to me and I just want to escape to the things that I grew up with as a child.” And she says, “But I like Superman too.” And my friend, like an idiot, says, “Actually, Superman is DC comics.”
You didn’t actually say that to her did you? I asked as some of us met up for dinner. “Yeah I did.” <Urban head wag.> For reasons unknown to me the boy likes to go urban on me from time to time. All I know is that you cannot UNSEE that. I said, “OK…Christina Aguilera, let’s take it down a notch.
I asked my friend, “Why don’t you JUST take her to those Marvel movies? They are terribly innocuous, NOT like that King Lear incident when we were postgraduates. What happened with Shakespeare’s King Lear, Sang? Well the feckless director changed the ending to an outlandish happy ending where Edgar marries Cordelia. We were so incensed at this hack job that we all stood up and walked out. It would be akin to setting The Merchant of Venice on Mars. And do NOT give Elon Musk any ideas.
But back to the story. He says, “Well, I want to take her but she would talk all the way through the movie asking things like, Who’s that? That’s the Hulk. Who’s that? That’s Iron Man. Who’s that? That’s Thor. What’s happened to Iron Man? Has he gained weight or something? No, that’s a new suit called the Hulkbuster created solely for the purpose of restraining Hulk…oh never mind.
Well…I can see where you’re coming from….
Why does Nicodemus come in veil of night, hiding himself? He wants things on the hush hush. Anonymous. Secret. Jesus was seen as a fringe figure so there was a real possibility that Nick could be suspended without pay if the high ups found out. He might lose his next promotion in the Sanhedrin, the Jewish high court. Lose friends. Lose valuable contact. Shunned by the establishment. The dinner invitations sure to dry up. But it was an open secret that Jesus’ preaching had real authority and power and people were listening to what he was saying. An open secret.
Even the question Nick asks is about a secret. Perhaps THE SECRET. Had he phrased it in a different way, he may have asked Jesus, “What is the secret of life?”
James Taylor may have had helped Nicodemus with that one had they been contemporaries.
The secret of love is in opening up your heart.
It’s okay to feel afraid, but don’t let that stand in your way.
Cause anyone knows that love is the only road.
And since we’re only here for a while, might as well show some style. Give us a smile.
Not bad. Not bad at all, James.
But Nicodemus is anxious. “Rabbi, how do you get into the Kingdom of God?” And Jesus says, “You must be born again NOT from your mother but from ABOVE.”
The Greek word here is anothen which means “from above” or “from top to bottom.” It is the same word that is used on Good Friday when the veil of the Temple was torn anothen, “from top to bottom,” As it often happens in John’s gospel, somebody listens, but does not HEAR. NOT second time, once more. No. Anothen.
By the way, the “you” here is the plural you. So if Jesus were Scottish, he would say “Yous all must be born from above.”
I have a fellow Kirk minister friend who was called to a rather posh charge for her first charge. That they had called her was a surprise even to her for she felt that she did not have the capacity to put on airs after having been raised in the tough inner city. After one Sunday service an older member with all the letters behind his name teased her by saying, “Well, there were a quite a few lambs in your sermon today.” It annoyed her even now as she shared the story with me. To which I said, “Look, unless no one has to guess whether that YOU is singular or plural.”
“Well how then can I be born from above?” Nick asks. And Jesus says Pneuma. The Wind. The wind comes and then it goes. You cannot control the wind, Nick,” Jesus says. “Cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”
That’s the secret, Jesus says. But when something is secret no more, it is dangerous. Dangerous? Nick says. Jesus nods his head. Dangerous. The Wind is a dangerous thing. Jesus was also speaking from personal experience after having escaped some hairy moments involving the crowd…for his moment had not yet come.
In 1993, 6 identical bombs concealed in 6 identical tool boxes were sent to 6 different addresses in northern part of New York State. 4 of the bombs exploded. Killing 5 people and injuring 2. The ATF (Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms), the federal arm assigned to investigate bombings were called in. Each package sent via federal post were difficult to trace and weighed about 16lbs each. Not all bombs reached their target. Building a bomb is actually quite elemental. It requires 4 basic things.
- Trip wire
Propelled by the dynamite, each piece of shrapnel travels 10 times faster than a bullet, moving 15,000 feet per second. The shrapnel can tear through solid pieces of concrete.
Explosives are split into 2 categories. High explosives and low explosives. High explosives like dynamite and C4 (C4 as in plastics and NOT CH4 as in our Kirk hymn book) are the most powerful used for demolition and excavation or for military purposes. They are extremely stable requiring a great amount of force from a detonator to set them off. C4 has the consistency of something in between play-doh and cottage cheese.
Low explosives include flash powder used in firecrackers on Guys Fawkes night and smokeless powder used in shot gun shells. They are easier to ignite than high explosives. It is the explosive of choice for amateur bombers.
It was clear to the ATF that the damage caused in these cases was caused by high explosives.
You might be wondering how I know this stuff. Watch any crime show: 48 Hours. FBI Files. Real Crime. Newspapers. All I can say to all of you is PLEASE do not Google any of this because I can assure you that MI5 will show up at your door if you do.
They eventually found the 2 men responsible because it is not easy to hide where one acquired these materials. One obvious destination is a quarry or a demolition company. And they always leave a paper trail. But the most important question when the 2 men were arrested was: How these 2 men with no military or law enforcement training managed to make this bomb? The answer is as banal as it is CHILLING. They went on-line and simply ordered a manual entitled: How to make a Bomb. A manual protected under Freedom of speech and information act.
Secrets are dangerous when they are secrets no more.
Rosslyn Chapel, Edinburgh. Rosetta Stone, Egypt. Roswell, New Mexico.
UFOs and aliens.
What is the chance that we are the only sentient beings in the WHOLE of creation? The WHOLE of creation, of ALL THAT IS? Is it a mathematical improbability? NO, it is a mathematical IMPOSSIBILITY.
So why are we kept in the dark? Because secrets are dangerous when they are secrets no more.
Open Secret: When Galileo proved that earth revolved around the sun he was made to recant to perpetuate a lie because the church could not stand for it. IT WAS JUST TOO DANGEROUS.
Open Secret: The earth is NOT flat. But today we have “flat-earthers” who are trying to bring STUPID back.
Open Secret: We have a gun problem in the United States. There was a shooting at the Super Bowl Parade. At a Super Bowl Parade! BTW, AR-15 does not stand for Automatic Rifle. It stands for ArmaLite Rifle.
Open Secret: A good guy with gun is NOT an answer to a BAD guy with a gun. The parade had more than 800 armed law enforcement personnel. The open secret is that the good guy with a gun can only respond AFTER the people have been shot.
Open Secret: The rise of Napoleon Bonaparte had at least one massive inadvertent consequence: the creation of Germany as the self governing Prussian states came together as one to become Germany. Where is your evidence? First Reich, the Holy Roman Empire, lasted 1000 years. Charlemagne, first king of the Franks. Second Reich, Bismarck, out of victory in the Franco-Prussian War. And the Third Reich. Well, we all know who was in charge of that.
Open secret: Whenever there has been a war between France and Germany, all of modern Europe became destabilized. Where is the evidence? 1870. 1914. 1939.
Open Secret. The country that is wholly impossible to defeat and occupy is none other than the USA. Surrounded by 2 vast oceans, it has a natural moat and the 2 bordering countries who are allies. More important perhaps because it has 393 million guns when its population is 330 million.
Open Secret: It was France that was wholly wary of the German reunification after the fall of the Berlin wall. They tried to slow down the process by throwing the bureaucratic book through Brussels.
Open Secret: Ukraine has to win this war outright for it is THE litmus test for the will of NATO. Because Putin is a liar, the next country he will have to attack is a NATO ally and the Third World War will be ignited.
Open Secret: Alexei Navalny is more dangerous to Putin DEAD because he will live on as a MEMORY, an IDEA and IDEAS are un-killable.
Open Secret: Do this in MEMORY of me. As often as you partake of my body and blood. Do this in memory of me. Jesus is unkillable because he has already DIED and is now resurrected. He is dangerous because he IS Spirit. Pneuma. And the Spirit cannot be killed.
Open Secrets are dangerous when they are secrets no more.
Because the secret of LIFE, I think Jesus is saying, is that we have ALREDY been given the ANSWERS to the EXAM. Follow me. Jesus loves me this I know for the Bible tells me so. There was a father who had 2 sons. My ancestor was a wandering Aramean. Be born from above. It’s like having all the answers sitting right there in front of you for a Pub Quiz Night or for a game of Trivial Pursuit. Right there in the OPEN.
Secrets are dangerous when they are secrets no more.
Do this in memory of me. Hallelujah.
In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Thanks be to God.
Rev Sang Yoon Cha
25 February 2024