Nicodemus and Setting a Scene

If you’ve not been following along, last week I started a new series.

A little different than my usual kind.

We’re applying ‘scenes’ from the Gospel of John to the world of writing. (or I’m trying to do that)

Last week, it was the stories of Jesus’ call to the 12 disciples and Jesus’ first miracle.  To find out how those applied to the craft of writing, check ‘em out 🙂

This week, we’re visiting the story of Nicodemus and The Samaritan Woman.

So….

Let’s chat.

The story of Nicodemus is a great one about what salvation really is. Here are the verses from John 3.

(Note the bold)

1 Now there was a Pharisee, a man named Nicodemus who was a member of the Jewish ruling council. 2 He came to Jesus at night and said, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the signs you are doing if God were not with him.”

 3 Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.[a]

 4 “How can someone be born when they are old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely they cannot enter a second time into their mother’s womb to be born!”

 5 Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. 6 Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit[b] gives birth to spirit. 7 You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You[c] must be born again.’ 8 The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”[d]

 9 “How can this be?” Nicodemus asked.

   10 “You are Israel’s teacher,” said Jesus, “and do you not understand these things? 11 Very truly I tell you, we speak of what we know, and we testify to what we have seen, but still you people do not accept our testimony. 12 I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things? 13 No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven—the Son of Man.[e] 14 Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up,[f] 15 that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.”[g]

 16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

First of all, Nicodemus was one of the ‘good’ guys. A Pharisee. The men who KNEW the Bible. Kept the ‘letter’ of the Law. (notice, I said ‘letter’ and not ‘spirit’. I think we all struggle with this at some point). But unlike some of the other Pharisees, Nicodemus was willing to humble himself to discover the truth from Jesus. Take the risk.

The main heart of this Scripture is that salvation comes from God. No one can birth themselves. To be born again – born of God – it requires God’s amazing call of our hearts. The sin we are naturally born with must be abolished for us to be right with God, so God has to start over with our hearts. Give us new birth.

How does this apply to writing?

Setting a scene.

We interepret this entire scene differently because of one simple phrase. Nicodemus came to Jesus ‘by night’. That tells us more about Nicodemus and Jesus. Nicodemus was afraid of the other Pharisees response and Jesus was willing to talk to him at any time.

What does this say about how setting is involved in your story?

Setting changes things. The same conversation can happen on a beach, during a wedding, or on the decks of a sinking ship, and it completely changes the way we view the conversation. Added tension or humor, modify the words and perspectives of the people engaged in dialogue.

If your novel is set in a barren place, does it emulate the barrenness of in your character’s heart or womb? Does the lushness of the surroundings show the growth of a relationship?

In my historical romance (wip), the catastrophe of WWI is an outward symbol of the devastation happening in my heroine’s heart.

What about you? Does your setting have a particular meaning in your story?

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