Born Again: Nicodemus
So Jesus had Nicodemus, a man of the Pharisees a group that was at odds with Jesus’ ministry, come to visit Him. Let’s see what’s next, John 3, verse 2; “He came to Jesus at night and said, "Rabbi, we know you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the miraculous signs you are doing if God were not with him." The first thing we notice is that Nick came to Jesus at night. I think this makes sense given what we’ve learned about the relationship the Pharisees had with Jesus, that Nicodemus wanted to be guarded by the darkness of night; not to be seen visiting Jesus. Now, of course, none of us would have done that. We would have boldly marched to Jesus in broad daylight singing Amazing Grace, ruining our careers and alienating our families and friends, radically changing everything we had ever known. We would have done that then because that’s what we do now, right? We boldly proclaim our faith every day of the week and don’t just approach Christ in the safe darkness of a Sunday morning service.
“In reply Jesus declared, "I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again." (verse 3). Ok, here it is, the cat’s out of the bag now. "How can a man be born when he is old?" Nicodemus asked. "Surely he cannot enter a second time into his mother's womb to be born!" I have spent a lot of time in classrooms over the years, on both sides of the desk, and I have heard many times that there are no stupid questions. This is one of those things people say to be nice, but we all know that it’s not true. There are stupid questions, lots of them. So what Nick asks could immediately be classified as one of those questions, we need to consider who he’s talking to. Some might say that Nico had so much faith in Jesus that he believed that the Messiah could make this happen, that we could re-enter our mother’s womb and be born again. I don’t know, I feel like Nicodemus was pretty shaken up by being in the presence of Christ and wasn’t thinking particularly clearly. Also, I think that by Nick asking that question back then and getting it documented for all of us to read, it has kept a countless number of us asking that very same question.
“Jesus answered, "I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit.” (verse 5). I like here how Jesus ignores Nicodemus’ question and gets on with the point; gives him a little grace. “Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, 'You must be born again.' 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." (verses 6-8). There it is, the answer to the question. Jesus isn’t talking about a physical birth or rebirth, He’s talking about a change of spirit, and not just a little bit either, but a completely new beginning of who we are.
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