Wednesday: The New Birth
“You must be born again.” John 3:7
Oh to be a fly on the wall. Well, maybe not a fly exactly, but wouldn’t you have loved to be there? Wouldn’t you have loved to see the look on Nicodemus’ face when Jesus said this to him. It’s as if it came from outer space. It was so sudden and so surprising; I bet Nicodemus blinked.
He’d come to Jesus in the night, afraid to be seen with Him. Nicodemus was a respected Pharisee, a member of the Sanhedrin. He’d come to this clandestine meeting representing a small minority of that board of elders who thought Jesus just might really be the Messiah his followers claimed He was. He, Nicodemus and those he represented, wanted to know more. When the formalities were completed and the two sat together alone, ready to get down to brass tacks, Nicodemus began to explain his position and that of his constituency, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher from God…
It’s as if Jesus interrupts him and says, ”“Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” …
I’m sure it took a moment for Nicodemus to respond. He must have been confused, as many are today when we use that same phrase. On the surface, the statement seems to have nothing at all to do with the conversation Nicodemus had planned to have, but Jesus, in His response, has merely cut to the chase. In His role as God, Jesus knows the heart of every man He sees and He clearly understands the disconnect between the Pharisees and the Father.
You see, the problem with Nicodemus, and with all religion, is a focus on the flesh and the world of the flesh. Though religion acknowledges God and may even assent to His rule, it fails to recognize that a relationship with Him can only exist “in spirit and in truth.” Nicodemus is completely baffled. He reverts to the only thing he knows, the flesh, wondering, “How can this be?” Jesus confuses him further by comparing the spirit filled life to the wind, but Nicodemus’ failure to understand lies in his own heart and mind. For him and for all practitioners of religion, the Kingdom of God is invisible.
God has been trying to tell mankind from the beginning that an eternal future exists beyond this world for all those who will trust Him by faith. Through Abraham He taught us that faith is the medium of exchange. That faith has nothing to do with the temporal flesh of this world and everything to do with a Kingdom that lies invisible beyond our concept of time and space; beyond the apparent laws of physics that rule the visible universe.
Faith garners trust and trust flows out of a bond of love and respect. God has been calling from the beginning for mankind to please ignore the calls of an opposition that inhabits the world of the flesh and trust Him by faith. It’s a choice that every person is free to make and those who make the choice, even though no physical evidence exists to support it, are the ones who will be born again. They are the ones who will see the Kingdom of God. They are the ones who will spend eternity with Him in a garden paradise.
Religion is about what I can do for God, who has no need of my works. It is of the flesh and so it is temporal and corrupt. Faith is about trusting God for what He has already done for me. It’s about worshiping that which, for now, is invisible and believing, in spite of opposition, that when Jesus said, “In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. And where I go you know, and the way you know.” John 14:2 – 4
Though it seems foolish and impossible to the religious, or intellectual mind, the only “way” is faith.
“You must be born again.”