Nicodemus said, "But if a person is already old, how can he be born again? A person cannot enter his mother's body again! So a person cannot be born a second time!" But Jesus answered, "I tell you the truth. A person must be born from water and the Spirit. If a person is not born from water and the Spirit, then he cannot enter God's kingdom.
— John 3:4-5
Jesus has tried to move Nicodemus from philosophical discussion to a personal one. "Unless you are born again, you can never see the Kingdom of God," Jesus told him. Nicodemus tries to pull it back to a philosophical discussion by couching it in human terms, "Surely I cannot go back to my mother's womb?" Jesus reminds him that "no one," not even a spiritual Ruling Council member and teacher, can enter the Kingdom without the water/Spirit birth. As a spiritual man, this would have been a hard statement to hear. "I must be baptized like a Gentile or like those miscreants that John the Baptist is baptizing? I must have something radically done by the Spirit of God?" We can hear him think in shock. Yes! That is Jesus' point. Clinging to his old righteousness, surpassing others in religious practice, reputation, and effort wasn't going to cut it with God. Only a new birth would do—a birth from above, a birth facilitated by God. He had to cut his earthbound thinking. He had to open himself to God's new work through the Spirit or he would miss the glory of God's Kingdom. The very best that Israel had to offer couldn't enter the Kingdom without faith in Jesus and a new birth by the power of the Holy Spirit.
O righteous Father, forgive me for trying to hang on to my earthbound righteousness and religious practice. I know that I could not be a part of your Kingdom without being spiritually reborn. Thank you for providing the sacrifice that atones for my sin. Thank you for providing me the means to confess my faith in him and to share with him in his death, burial and resurrection. Thank you for remaking me by the power of your Holy Spirit. Please help me share this grace with others. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.
Today's Verses in Context
There was a man named Nicodemus. Nicodemus was one of the Pharisees. He was an important Jewish leader. One night Nicodemus came to Jesus. Nicodemus said, "Teacher, we know that you are a teacher sent from God. No person can do these miracles that you do without God's help." Jesus answered, "I tell you the truth. A person must be born again. If a person is not born again, then that person cannot be in God's kingdom." Nicodemus said, "But if a person is already old, how can he be born again? A person cannot enter his mother's body again! So a person cannot be born a second time!" But Jesus answered, "I tell you the truth. A person must be born from water and the Spirit. If a person is not born from water and the Spirit, then he cannot enter God's kingdom. A person's body is born from his human parents. But a person's spiritual life is born from the Spirit. Don't be surprised that I told you, 'You must be born again.' The wind blows where it wants to go. You hear the wind blow. But you don't know where the wind comes from or where the wind is going. It is the same with every person that is born from the Spirit." Nicodemus asked, "How can all this be possible?" Jesus said, "You are an important teacher of Israel (the Jews). But you still don't understand these things? I tell you the truth. We talk about what we know. We tell about what we have seen. But you people don't accept what we tell you. I have told you about things here on earth. But you do not believe me. So surely you will not believe me if I tell you about the things of heaven! The only one that has ever gone up to heaven is the One that came down from heaven—the Son of Man. "Moses lifted up the snake in the desert. It is the same with the Son of Man. The Son of Man must be lifted up too. Then every person that believes in the Son of Man can have life forever." Yes, God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son. God gave his Son so that every person that believes in him would not be lost, but havelife forever. God sent his Son into the world. God did not send his Son to judge the world guilty. God sent his Son so that the world could be saved through his Son. The person that believes in God's Son is not judged (condemned). But the person that does not believe is already judged. Why? Because that person has not believed in God's only Son. People are judged by this fact: The Light (goodness) has come into the world. But people did not want light. They wanted darkness (sin). Why? Because they were doing evil things. Every person that does evil hates the light. That person will not come to the light. Why? Because then the light will show all the bad things he has done. But the person that follows the true way comes to the light. Then the light will show that the things that person has done were done through God.
Related Scripture Readings
Surely you know that the people that do wrong will not get God's kingdom. Don't be fooled. These people will not get God's kingdom: people that sin sexually, people that worship idols, people that do the sin of adultery, men that let other men use them for sex or that have sex with other men, people that steal, people that are greedy, people that get drunk, people that say bad things to other people, and people that cheat. In the past, some of you were like that. But you were washed clean, you were made holy, and you were made right with God in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.
1 Corinthians 6:9-11
In the past we were foolish people too. We did not obey, we were wrong, and we were slaves to the many things our bodies wanted and enjoyed. We lived doing evil and being jealous. People hated us and we hated each other. But then the kindness and love of God our Savior was made known. He saved us because of his mercy (love), not because of any good things we did. He saved us through the washing that made us new people. He saved us by making us new through the Holy Spirit. God poured out (gave) to us that Holy Spirit fully through Jesus Christ our Savior. We were made right with God by his grace (kindness). God saved us so that we could be his children and look forward to receiving life that never ends.
Some of us are Jews and some of us are Greeks (non-Jews); some of us are slaves and some of us are free. But we were all baptized into one body through one Spirit. And we were all given the one Spirit.
1 Corinthians 12:13