TO CHEW ON: “Jesus answered and said to him, ‘Most assuredly I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.’” John 3:3
Nicodemus started his conversation with Jesus by giving Him an almost generic compliment: “‘Rabbi, we know that You are a teacher come from God; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him’” - John 3:2.
Jesus’ answer (‘“Most assuredly I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God’” - John 3:3) didn’t seem to have anything to do with what Nicodemus had just said. Instead, Jesus cut to the chase, addressed the heart of the matter, probably got at what Nicodemus wanted to know: What do You have; and can I get it too?
In the conversation that followed, Jesus explained several things to puzzled Nicodemus:
1. He needed to be “born again” to see this kingdom of God - John 3:3.
2. He could only enter this kingdom through this new birth - John 3:5.
3. Being “born again” was not a physical but a spiritual experience. It involved water (baptism, repentance) and the Spirit.
4. The Spirit was the member of the godhead active in this new birth. The Spirit’s action is compared to wind (John 3:6-8). I can’t help but think of the Spirit hovering over unformed creation in Genesis 1:2 before the light arrived. Here, at the new birth, the Spirit blows over human lives to activate them toward God spiritually.
5. This new birth would be and is based on a physical time-and-space event—Jesus’ death and resurrection - John 3:13-16.
Still today we puzzle over the depths of Jesus’ words to Nicodemus. Thinking back to our own “new birth” experience, we may be able to detect the work of that Spirit wind as we felt dissatisfaction with life as it was, began a search for answers, were wowed by how God brought people into our lives, and seemingly orchestrated circumstances to bring us to repentance and faith. Suddenly we saw evidences of God everywhere. His fingerprints were all over our lives!
Jack Hayford sums up the new birth wonderfully in an article in my Bible:
“New birth is more than simply being “saved.” It is a requalifying experience opening up the possibilities of our whole being to the supernatural dimension of life and fitting us for a beginning in God’s kingdom order” - Jack Hayford, “New Birth,” New Spirit-Filled Life Bible, p. 1447 (emphasis added)
PRAYER: Dear Jesus, thank You for paying the death penalty for my sin so I could enter the kingdom of God. Please keep my eyes open to the supernatural dimension of kingdom life—even as I still live on natural earth. Amen.
Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.