Born again… how many of us have wished we could “start all over” again? Though we may have thought it, few of us would go back and start all over. This idea floods Nicodemus’ mind and fuels his question:
Nicodemus said to Him, “How can a man be born when he is old? He cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born, can he?”
Nicodemus is trying to understand the Kingdom from a human perspective. He cannot fathom how a man can be born a second time; the Kingdom must be viewed through the eyes of the Kingdom and for that, you must be born again…
Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into 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 be amazed that I said to you, you must be born again. The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going; so is everyone who is born of the Spirit.”
Jesus illustrates His point so beautifully through the wonder of His creation: the wind. How simple we tend to be: we don’t question the wind, we trust that it will cool us down, or bring rain; it can be destructive; it is a trustworthy gauge for the weather; we can’t see it, but we don’t question it. When you are born of the flesh, you see things from a flesh point of view; humans seem to demand physical proof of the Kingdom ~ the doubting Thomas syndrome. When the Creator of the Universe takes up residence inside you, He enables you to see God’s Kingdom because you are born of the Spirit.
For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace, because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so, and those who are in the flesh cannot please God. Romans 8: 5-8 NASB
When our desire is to glorify the flesh, we are not Kingdom minded, but out for ourselves. We want people to see us for how “spiritual” we are; we quote all the right Scriptures, do all the right things, or attend church EVERY Sunday… our righteousness is filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6).
Remember how hostile the synagogue official became when he confronted Jesus for healing the infirm woman? The sinful mind is hostile to God, and the sinful nature controls them.
“So He was saying, what is the kingdom of God like, and to what shall I compare it? It is like a mustard seed, which a man took and threw into his own garden; and it grew and became a tree, and the birds of the air nested in its branches.” Luke 13: 18-19 NASB
The Kingdom offers rest; Jesus promises peace to those who follow the Spirit. As Isaiah so pointedly reminds us: “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.” Isaiah 26:3 KJV We will find rest when spiritually minded; find rest for weary hearts, shaded from the heat ~ the trials of this world. We have that assurance when we see the Kingdom in operation. We must stay focused on Jesus; it is all about Jesus ~ I must decrease so that He can increase.
John the Baptist had the Kingdom in his heart ~ he preached and lived it; when the people questioned whether he was the Christ, he pointed his disciples to follow Jesus.
The people that rejoiced when Jesus healed the woman were closer to the Kingdom of God than the entire Sanhedrin put together. Why? Because they saw God at work; it didn’t matter that it was the Sabbath, they rejoiced at the compassion Jesus had for her. If Jesus had compassion for her, He would have it for them. He touched and healed this daughter of Abraham, surely He would do the same for any ~ He won their hearts by showing them His.
Nicodemus said to Him, “How can these things be?” Jesus answered and said to him, “Are you the teacher of Israel and do not understand these things?”
Why did Jesus ask this question of Nicodemus? Jesus knows the answer, but He is challenging Nicodemus to find the answer. Nicodemus is looking in the eyes of the Messiah, the Messiah he has been waiting for, but he still is unsure, though finding himself face to face with Him. I am convinced however, that Nicodemus knew He was the Messiah by the end of the encounter.
The point Jesus is making is that leaders can be so enthralled in religion, we all can so busy for God, deceived that we are doing good, which most of the time is true, but when religion (flesh) rules the mind, we miss God moving. “How can you be a leader of Israel and not understand these things?”
Being born again seems like a new concept, yet Jesus expects Nicodemus to understand. If the leaders of Israel, who knew and understood the Scriptures, above everyone, they should understand the concept of being born again. In 1 Samuel 10:6, Samuel prophesied to Saul:
“Then the Spirit of the LORD will come upon you mightily, and you shall prophesy with them and be changed into another man” (NASB). In verse 9, the prophecy came to pass: “Then it happened when he turned his back to leave Samuel, God changed his heart; and all those signs came about on that day.” This is just one of many accounts, that illustrate being born again.
Nicodemus has such a heart to know God that he risked it all to move from knowing about God to relationship with God. This is the desire of God’s heart for all of us, to leave all the “works” behind and step into an intimate relationship with Him ~ not just to see the Kingdom, but so we can advance the Kingdom in the earth. When we become “born again” we get that chance we wished for ~ to start all over again.
To be continued…
In His grace,