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Dave Brisbin

Come and See

Jesus will never give anyone a straight answer to a question. Even when simply asked where he’s staying, he replies: Come and see. He’s not trying to be difficult. He just knows that with an answer in our heads, we will stop looking. A map is not the territory, and no answer made of words is true enough to make us free.  Truth with the power to make us free can only be experienced, never agreed upon.

A rich young man asks how to find eternal life, and Jesus tells him to sell everything he has and follow. Poor fishermen who have nothing to sell, simply drop their nets and follow. Come and see: a pattern is forming.

Nicodemus, a ruling member of Israel’s governing body, a Pharisee, comes to Jesus under cover of night to get answers. Jesus says he must be born again to see the Kingdom of Heaven—that it’s not enough to be born of water, he must also be born of spirit, which is like the wind that blows where it wishes. He won’t know where this spirit is coming from or going to—he’ll never see it, but he’ll hear it and see its effect. Nicodemus is confused.

Jesus has brought two metaphors together.

Being born of spirit is seeing the kingdom of heaven, moving beyond obedience to physical rules and ritual law to the freedom of uncertainty, following spiritual movement that we will never understand, but will know is true in its effect on life and relationship. It’s this movement that allows us to “see” kingdom. But there’s a rub. We think of seeing as remote, something we can do from a distance. For Jews, it is intimate. Psalm 34 says, taste and see that the Lord is good. Taste, ta’am in Hebrew, is also to perceive. See, ra’ah, is to enjoy, experience, discern, perceive.

Taste and see, come and see. There is no other way.

We want to bring a gun to a knife fight—view from a distance, safely think about what can only be ingested. To taste is the most vulnerable thing we can do. There is no safe distance or way to see Kingdom, to be born anew. We can’t answer the question; we can only come and see. All defenses down. Like a newborn. Or not at all.


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