Bible Reading: John 3:1-21
Jesus answered and said to Nicodemus, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” [John 3:3]
Nicodemus was both a Pharisee and a ruler of the Jews. He would almost certainly have witnessed the signs that Jesus did in Jerusalem [John 2:23], and was sincerely puzzled, because he recognised that Jesus could not have done these signs unless God was with Him. He came, in sincerity, to Jesus by night to try and get some answers to his questions. I love the fact that he came by night. When we lived in a Muslim country people often came to talk under the cover of darkness, sincerely asking questions but not wanting to be seen.
Jesus made it clear to Nicodemus that he had to be born again [lit. “Born from above”] in order to both see the kingdom of God and enter the kingdom of God [verse 3,5]. His vast experience and knowledge of religion would not give access to God’s kingdom. This “new” teaching was totally foreign to the learned cleric! His ignorance is clear from the question that he asked Jesus – “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” He did not understand that Jesus was speaking about a spiritual, not a physical rebirth. Jesus used the words, “born of water and of the Spirit” [v.5]. There are various opinions about the word water in this context. Some would say it is baptism and others that it speaks of the washing and renewal of the Holy Spirit [Titus 3:5]. Water may refer to physical birth. In Hebrew the word water is used to describe natural birth, and such an explanation fits the context of this passage.
The Bible teaches us that we have all sinned and that sin has separated us from God. This is the reason that we need a spiritual rebirth. It is the work of the Holy Spirit. Jesus said, “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit” [John 3:6]. The human spirit is that part of man that is intuitive, includes the conscience, and was originally created to have communion with God. When we turn from sin and invite Jesus Christ into our life, believing on Him, then the human spirit is made alive again by the Holy Spirit. In this way man’s relationship with God is restored. At the same as he puts his trust in Christ man’s old, fleshly, carnal nature is crucified with Christ and he becomes a new person [see 2 Corinthians 5:17]. Literally, the slate is wiped clean; we are seated together with Christ, adopted into His family and begin a new life of fellowship with God. Over the next two days we will look further into John chapter 3 and see how this new birth is made possible.
Read John 1:12-13 and Titus 3:5. What do these verses teach us about being born again?
What are the words or phrases in our Bible reading today that describe a person who has been born again by the Holy Spirit?