I am like Nicodemus. Jesus wants me to understand something but I’m not quite getting it. Jesus is patient. Jesus explains it again.
I have to be born a second time. This time I must be born of the Spirit of God. There is such good news here. Jesus died to pay the price for me and rose again by the power of the Holy Spirit. I get to be born again by the same power of the Holy Spirit. I am raised to a new life in Jesus.
“You’re not listening. Let me say it again. Unless a person submits to this original creation — the ‘wind-hovering-over-the-water’ creation, the invisible moving the visible, a baptism into a new life — it’s not possible to enter God’s kingdom. When you look at a baby, it’s just that: a body you can look at and touch. But the person who takes shape within is formed by something you can’t see and touch — the Spirit — and becomes a living spirit.” | ~Jesus John 3:5-6 (The Message Bible)
Here are some key ideas:
- Nicodemus was initially attracted to Jesus because of the miracles He did.
- He wanted to know more about Jesus and the doctrines that He taught.
- Nicodemus himself was “the teacher of the Jews” and he had great respect for the Teacher from Galilee.
- Nicodemus was a Pharisee, which meant he lived by the strictest possible religious rules.
- Not all of the Pharisees were hypocrites, and evidence indicates that Nicodemus was deeply sincere in his quest for truth.
- He came to Jesus by night, not because he was afraid of being seen, but most likely because he wanted to have a quiet uninterrupted conversation with the new Teacher “come from God.”
- He was a man of high moral character, deep religious hunger, and yet profound spiritual blindness.
- Our Master began with that which was familiar, birth being a universal experience. The word translated “again” also means “from above.” Though all human beings have experienced natural birth on earth, if they expect to go to heaven, they must experience a supernatural spiritual birth from above.
- Once again, we meet with the blindness of sinners: this well-educated religious leader, Nicodemus, did not understand what Jesus was talking about! Jesus was speaking about a spiritual birth, but Nicodemus thought only of a physical birth. The situation is no different today. When you talk with people about being born again, they often begin to discuss their family’s religious heritage, their church membership, religious ceremonies, and so on.
- Being a patient teacher, our Lord picked up on Nicodemus’ words and further explained the new birth.
- To be “born of water” is to be born physically (“enter a second time into his mother’s womb”) but to be born again means to be born of the Spirit.
- Just as there are two parents for physical birth, so there are two “parents” for spiritual birth: the Spirit of God and the Word of God.
- The Spirit of God takes the Word of God and, when the sinner believes, imparts the life of God.
- Of course, birth involves life; and spiritual birth from above involves God’s life. John uses the word life thirty-six times in his account.
- The opposite of life is death, and the person who has not believed on Jesus the Messiah does not have God’s life, eternal life, abundant life.
- You do not manufacture disciples any more than you manufacture babies!
- The only way to enter God’s family is through the new birth.
- Birth involves a future, and we are “born again to a living hope”.
- A newborn baby cannot be arrested because he or she has no past!
- When you are born again into God’s family, your sins are forgiven and forgotten, and your future is bright with a living hope.
- Nicodemus must have had a surprised and yet bewildered look on his face, for the Master had to say, “You must not be surprised that I told you that all of you must be born again”. But Nicodemus was born a Jew!
- He was a part of God’s covenant people! Certainly his birth was better than that of a Gentile or a Samaritan!
- And his life was exemplary, for he was a faithful Pharisee!
- He could well understand Jesus telling the Romans that they had to be born again, but certainly not the Jews!
That, however, is exactly what Jesus tells us all. I must be born of the Holy Spirit. I must be born again. And … the good news is, I have been. Now that makes me do a happy dance. I am shouting all praise to my Master Jesus. What a stunning new life He has given me.