We are going on in the third chapter of John. If you’re just getting started, you can back up and start at the beginning by clicking here. Or you can jump into the story right here. A man, Nicodemus, has come to Jesus at night to question him.
Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
Nicodemus said to Him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?”
Jesus answered, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit.”
Here we are still in the middle of the conversation with Nicodemus. We’re talking about being born again. What a strange phrase, but then, it’s become so common it has lost it’s strange-ness in our ears.
Nicodemus wants to know what God is doing, and what Jesus has to do with God, and Jesus answers by saying, “You won’t understand unless you’re born again.”
Then he gives an analogy. We can feel the wind going by, but we can’t understand it. That’s how it is with the Spirit’s ways… Unless.
Unless what? Unless you are born of the Spirit.
Unless you are born of God, you don’t understand God. Unless you’re born of the Spirit, you don’t understand the Spirit. Jesus can’t explain anything of God to someone who isn’t born of God.
Nicodemus answered and said to Him, “How can these things be?”
Jesus answered and said to him, “Are you the teacher of Israel, and do not know these things? Most assuredly, I say to you, We speak of what We know and testify what We have seen, and you do not receive Our witness.”
Here he’s gently reprimanding Nicodemus, and saying, How can I talk to you of God? This is harsh. Remember, Nicodemus is one of the religious leaders and teachers. He should know of God more than anyone, right?
And then Jesus goes on to refer to Himself in third Person. “We.”
It’s just like God spoke in Genesis. “Let us create man…”
It’s because He’s about to say something about Who He is.
Nicodemus says, “We know you have come from God.”
Jesus is about to say He IS God.
“If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe,” He goes on, “How will you believe if I tell you heavenly things? No one has ascended to heaven but He who came down from heaven, that is, the Son of Man who is in heaven.”
So he’s saying, no one has ever come from God, except the One who IS God. The Son of Man is a title that Jesus refers to- it’s essentially saying, “God who was born as a man.” And He’s saying it about himself.
What do you think Nicodemus thinks of this? He came and said, “Okay, we know you came from God…” And Jesus answers him by saying, “If you want to understand what I’m about to say, you have to be of the Spirit. And by the way, I’m not from God. I am God.”
But that’s not all, he says even more. He tells Nicodemus the answer to what he came to ask- Why are you here? What’s your purpose?
“And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.”
It’s only this beginning of the book of John, but he’s already telling what the ending will be. He’s saying, “I’m God’s Son, and I’m here to rescue all of you through my death.”
This is what it means to be born again: To believe. To come to Jesus, listen to him, and look at him, and recognize that this is the Son of God, who has come to die and take away our sins.
If you do that, you’re born again- and then you can understand more and more of the kingdom of heaven. You can go to Jesus with your questions, and he can answer them.
Do you have to go back inside your mother’s womb? No.
You have to lay down at the feet of Jesus, and say, “I believe you have come from God, because you are God, and you have come to rescue me from my sins.”
And he washes you, not with water, but with blood. And you stand up, free from sin, your old self dead, and your new self born through Him into a new life.
You are born again.
This post is part of an ongoing series moving through the book of John. You can subscribe by email at the link on the side, or you can head to the lead page and go at your own pace. Just click here.