Rabbi Poupko, of the Chicago board of rabbis, told a group of priests I was with in Jerusalem that being Jewish is about flesh and blood.Â Whether a person is a devout Jew or an unbelieving Jew; whether they live in Israel, in the USA or in Eastern Europe and whatever language they speak; whether you like them or hate them, they all belong to one family â€“ they are the same flesh and blood â€“ they are Jewish.
No wonder, then, that Nicodemus, a first century rabbi, did not understand when Jesus said that â€˜flesh is flesh, but what is born of the Spirit is Spirit.â€™Â The family that Nicodemus knew was his own flesh and blood Jewish family that he had been born into â€“ the chosen race.Â The family that Jesus spoke of was a new worldwide family – Jew and Gentile alike â€“â€“ wherever the Spirit blew.Â For Jesus the chosen race was the whole human race and we have to be born again into it.
Jesusâ€™s words are as hard today as they were 2000 years ago.Â Loving our own flesh and blood â€“ our children, our parents, our families â€“ is something we do instinctively. Â We see it in the animal world.Â Parents would give their lives for their children.Â But giving our lives for our neighbourâ€™s children and parents and families is way beyond our normal instincts â€“ perhaps it is unnatural and impossible.
Nevertheless Jesus calls us to make this para-normal choice beyond flesh and blood, and he gives us the power of the Spirit so that we can do it.
Hereâ€™s a moving youtube presentation about a woman who made that choice : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eH7lz9wcHHs