Julian Assange, Ricky Nixon & Nicodemus: Lent 2 John 3:1-17

Tricky Wiki, Tricky Ricky, Tricky Nicky…

Take Up Beer For Lent, 2011, Week 2

Text’s from our World:

We used the following cartoons in order to gain momentum by interpreting texts close to home and our current experience by asking the questions below:



  • Write down in as short and succinct a phrase or sentence as possible the meaning of this text as you interpret it.
  • (Particularly if the above is difficult…) List what sort of information you would need to know about to interpret this text properly? How might you get this info?
  • How do you feel, What do you think about when confronted by thise images?
  • Who is the author for or against?  Do you agree or disagree with the text? Why?

Biblical Text:  John 3:1-21, ( also John 7:45-52, 19:38-52)

Lots of our discussion was based around what sort of character was Nicodemus?

Nicodemus is characterised as a Pharisee, ‘Judean’ (Jewish Authorities), One who comes at night.

I gave some critical info. on each of these characterisations leading up to this story and in the rest of John’s gospel.

In particular we considered the interrogation of John at the Jordan border lands, the filling of the empty ‘sacred’ water vessels with wine at the wedding of Cana and the turning of the tables in the Temple at the heart of ‘Judean’ territory.

Our central question was whether  Nicodemus was a helpful sympathiser, working to defend and care for the Jesus movement from within his position of power or if he was a dangerous, vacillating, fence sitting, sell out who is of the sort of character that is condemned most harshly in the gospel ie. John 9…

39Jesus said, ‘I came into this world for judgement so that those who do not see may see, and those who do see may become blind.’ 40Some of the Pharisees near him heard this and said to him, ‘Surely we are not blind, are we?’ 41Jesus said to them, ‘If you were blind, you would not have sin. But now that you say, “We see”, your sin remains.

As we linked the discussion of Nicodemus with that of contemporary characters such as Julian Assange and Ricky Nixon we  discussed the complexities of position, power , responsibility, secrecy, advocacy and the revelation of the truth.  Some of this discussion was similar to a previous Lenten discussion in ’02 when we were considering this text in relation to ‘Saving the Governor General.’ Perhaps the difference with this season’s discussion about secrecy, privacy and the truth ‘coming to light’ is the new pervasiveness of ‘social media’ as a personal and professional publishing tool and it’s implications upon each of our lives.

Texts from our Lives:

We asked these questions of ourselves largely based on Wes Howard Brook’s “John’s Gospel & The Renewal of the Church” Orbis, 1997.


Given that ‘Judean’ is used by John as a symbolic as well as a geographical term…What geographical regions/ designations have symbolic power in your own experience?  What are the socio-political power dynamics of this naming?

Who have been Nicodemus like characters in our own setting or personal experience?

In what situation may Jesus have such an exchange in our own context?  Act it out or try to rewrite the narrative?  How is it similar / different?  How does such a process make you feel?

How might our community support the “coming out’ of such persons rather than leaving them with private fear/ loss?


Who are the bearers of truth and change meeting resistance in our world and in your experience?

Reflect on so-called liberal versus radical approaches to problem solving.  How can we discern when a system can be changed from within to provide justice in it’s sphere of influence, and when we are called to dismantle a system in favour of the birth of something new?  Brainstorm 10 social change ideas for a particular social problem.   Which prioritise radical (start from scratch) vs reformist (progressive from within) change.

What is something that you feel may be ‘not possible’ but simultaneously the call of truth on your life?    What would you need to ‘die’ to in order to be ‘born of above’?

What lifestyle aspects (eg. physical safety, wealth, career security, social status/ acceptance) do I protect from the consequences that may flow from speaking openly about ‘gospel truth’.

How does your culture local and national respond to criticism of ‘the system’?  How do the consequences differ in Australia to other parts of the world?

Is the church more like Nicodemus or Jesus?


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