JOHN 3:1-15 (NIV – UK)
Jesus teaches Nicodemus
1 Now there was a Pharisee, a man named Nicodemus who was a member of the Jewish ruling council. 2 He came to Jesus at night and said, ‘Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the signs you are doing if God were not with him.’
3 Jesus replied, ‘Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.’
4 ‘How can someone be born when they are old?’ Nicodemus asked. ‘Surely they cannot enter a second time into their mother’s womb to be born!’
5 Jesus answered, ‘Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. 6 Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. 7 You should not be surprised at my saying, “You must be born again.” 8 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.’
9 ‘How can this be?’ Nicodemus asked.
10 ‘You are Israel’s teacher,’ said Jesus, ‘and do you not understand these things? 11 Very truly I tell you, we speak of what we know, and we testify to what we have seen, but still you people do not accept our testimony. 12 I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things? 13 No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven – the Son of Man. 14 Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, 15 that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.’
‘YOU MUST BE BORN AGAIN’
The phrase ‘born again Christian’ has picked up some perhaps undesirable connotations over the years – so much so that some people instantly take a step back when they hear the phrase – ‘oh no, not those born again Christians!’ But the truth is this: being a Christian is to be born again.
Jesus says to Nicodemus: ‘Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again’ (v. 3) and later on in he says ‘you must be born again’ (v. 7). Our first birth is a birth into a world of sin and death – a world in which we have no hope – we are dripping with sin, slave to our sinful nature, we cannot save ourselves and we are destined for the rubbish heap. Our first birth may bring us into the world – but it brings us into a world of darkness.
What is required is a second birth – being ‘born of the Spirit’ (v. 8), or being born of ‘water and the Spirit’ (v. 5). Water represents baptism here – an outward sign of an inward reality. Being born again is what is symbolised in baptism – going down into the water, in effect dying a death to our old selves, and rising again out of the water to new life. The Spirit of God brings this new birth, washes us clean and comes to dwell within us. The old is gone, the new is here – we are now a new creation – and we are now guaranteed our inheritance in the Kingdom of God! We must receive Jesus to be born again – we be willing to die to our old selves and embrace new life in him. Being born again isn’t an option or a luxury as a Christian – it is what makes us a Christian.
Question: Have you been born again?