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Jesus explains the New Birth

Updated: Jan 23, 2023

You must be born again

Nicodemus visits Jesus

In John's gospel chapter 3 there is a fascinating discussion between Jesus and Nicodemus which we can follow through verse by verse.

3:1-2 There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews:2 The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that you do, except God be with him.

This important man was probably part of the rich and powerful Gurion family. His name was Nicodemus, and he was highly influential Pharisee and religious leader you could say the 'top man' in Israel. Nicodemus addresses Jesus with respect calling him ‘Rabbi or teacher.’ Nicodemus thinks that because of the miracles Jesus had performed that God must be with him.

3:3 Jesus anticipates Nicodemus direction of conversation but cuts straight to the chase by saying ‘unless a man is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.

Jesus is telling Nicodemus and in a sense all humanity that a second birth is necessary to enter all God’s ways, purposes, and blessings here on earth. The natural birth gives us the 5 senses and the second birth open our spiritual senses of hearing, seeing, and sensing the things of God.

Without the new spiritual senses how can anyone experience the joys of God’s kingdom or God’s rule in our lives?

3:4 Nicodemus replies Jesus ‘How can a man be born when he is old, can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb and be born’? The idea here is that Nicodemus is saying to Jesus surely you are not suggesting a second physical birth!

3:5 Jesus answered Truly, truly , I tell you that ‘Unless a man be born of water [1] and of the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.’ This means each person who is born in a natural biological and physical birth must also experience a second supernatural spiritual birth that will enable them to enter all the joy and blessings of life in God’s kingdom.

3:6 Jesus now describes the rules of natural and spiritual generation, that which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Jesus is saying that the sinful human nature (the flesh) transmits its fallenness to each baby born through natural childbirth. However, the new spiritual nature can only be transmitted to a person by the Holy Spirit.

3:7 Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.Jesus tells the puzzled Nicodemus, do not be amazed, or surprised or begin to wonder why it is that (Jesus insists) that he must be born again (born anew). As a religious leader Nicodemus was well acquainted with salvation through keeping the torah yet this person Jesus was clearly saying that it was mandatory to be born again to be able to enter God’s kingdom. Something had to happen via the Holy Spirit working on Nicodemus’ heart so that his eyes could open to the Kingdom of God.

3:8 The wind blows where it chooses, and you hear the sound of it, but canst you cannot tell where it comes from, or where it goes: so is every one that is born of the Spirit. Jesus now gives an illustration or metaphor to help Nicodemus understand what he means. We cannot see the wind, yet we are clearly aware of the effects of the wind. We can hear it and we can see its effects on leaves, trees, and plants. In the same way when the wind of the Holy Spirit blows on your soul or mind, we cannot see it but are aware in hearts that new things are taking place. We can feel compassion or love as never before, or a new generosity of spirit. The Holy Spirit moves in and through the born-again hearts in a mysterious way as he wills. Nicodemus would be stunned to hear this as he was still focused on keeping the Law.

3:9 Nicodemus answered and said unto him, how can these things be?

Yet again the stunned Nicodemus asks, ‘how can this be so’? It is clear he had not a clue about how God intended salvation to work. Perhaps his strict training in the Law immunized him to the Gospel?

We break off the story at this point to consider what does this mean to you and me? If you are a follower of Jesus, then this story is an effective way to introduce Jesus in a conversation that could lead to that person coming to faith in Christ.

If you are not yet a follower of Christ, you must realize that Jesus’ stark message to Nicodemus is that we must be born again to enter God’s realm and enjoy all his wonderful benefits including forgiveness of all your sins.

But you say, how can I do it, The bible is clear (Romans 10:9) says that 'if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation'.

We now need to turn this belief into a prayer spoken from your heart.

Dear Jesus , thank you for taking my punishment on the cross, which I deserve for all the wrong things I have done in the past. Help me turn away (repent) from the ways of this world and all its the false promises. I ask now for your forgiveness and a fresh start in my life. I invite the Holy Spirit into my heart and mind to show me how to live from this time on. Amen

If you have prayed this prayer for the first time and meant it, you now need to start praying, reading your bible and find a church where they teach and believe the bible.

Bless you , the angels in heaven are rejoicing over your decision to turn to God.


Personal Prayer

[1] The likely picture here to Nicodemus would be like a mikvah (bath for ritual cleansing) which although enough for physical cleanliness was not enough to cleanse in a spiritual sense,

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