Reading: John 3:1-10
Verse 3: “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.”
In our passage for today and tomorrow, Nicodemus comes to Jesus “at night.” He is a Pharisee, an expert in the Law. All of who and what Nicodemus is comes from his knowledge of the Law and from his strict adherence to the Law. Nicodemus’ religion is all in his head. It is all through his own efforts that he is ‘holy.’ Yet he is drawn to Jesus. Jesus too was an expert in the Law, just in a much different way. Jesus was an expert at living out the heart of the Law.
The conversation begins with a polite compliment: “Rabbi, we know…” We? Jesus and the Pharisees are at odds with each other. The “we” likely refers to a very small group within the Pharisees who do actually believe what Nicodemus says. As if answering the question that Nicodemus was afraid to ask, Jesus says, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.” Caught totally off guard, Nicodemus attempts a joke. Jesus does not laugh. He presses on. In Jesus’ way of saying it’s not about strictly following all of the rules, he tells Nicodemus, “No one enters the kingdom of God unless he [or she] is born of the water and the Spirit.” Yes, we are all born from the water of the womb. This is what gives us life – here on earth. (And maybe Jesus is referring to John’s baptism – which the Pharisees looked down their noses at.)
Jesus is saying to Nicodemus and to all people that we must also experience a second birth, a spiritual birth, if we want to be a part of God’s kingdom – both here and one day in eternity. To experience this new life one must be “born again” – born of the Holy Spirit. Accepting Jesus as the Messiah, as our Lord and Savior, this invites the gift of the Holy Spirit to come into our heart. Jesus compares this Spirit to the wind. One doesn’t know where the wind comes from and one does not know where it might blow you. There is unknown and there is a lack of control. For a man of great knowledge and of strict control, this must’ve been a very scary thought. It is for most of us.
Prayer: O God, indeed your Spirit leads and guides in ways we don’t often understand. So we try and reign it in. We try and limit it. Free me from my fears and doubts. Enable me to be more in tune, more in step with the Spirit of Christ alive in me. Amen.