We have been studying the Kingdom of God in worship on Sundays. Today, I want to explore Jesus’ words in John 3 when he has a conversation with a religious leader, Nicodemus.
Nicodemus is a member of a Jewish sect that was adamantly opposed to Jesus. Yet…Nic (new nickname of Nicodemus!) is so interested in Jesus that he sneaks out in the dead of night to meet with him.
Jesus begins the conversation with this statement: No one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again. (John 3:3)
What does it mean to be born again?
Nic thinks that Jesus is speaking literally. Naturally, Nic is confused over how someone can be physically born once they have already aged.
But Jesus is not speaking literally. Jesus is speaking spiritually.
Jesus is teaching Nic (and us!) about spiritual transformation.
Jesus responds to Nic by saying, “No one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit.”
Entering the kingdom of God requires a spiritual rebirth; a new beginning. This new start is based not on flesh but on the Spirit.
Jesus references water to symbolize baptism and the Spirit to symbolize the Holy Spirit.
When have you experienced a dramatic change in your life?
You can probably think of dramatic changes that have accompanied major life events: graduation, job change/loss, marriage, kids, retirement.
Jesus encourages Nic to see that following Christ involves a dramatic spiritual change of the heart. By committing to Jesus, Nicodemus’ life would be permanently altered. It would be like a new beginning. A new birth.
The same is true for us.
We get to follow Jesus. We get to experience an awakening of God’s presence in the world. This is what it means to be born again.
Jesus encourages us to begin a new chapter of our lives.
Nicodemus took what Jesus said to heart. He was one of the people that cared for Jesus’ body after he was crucified.
May we also take to heart the words of Jesus. To restate it in the positive: Those who enter the kingdom of God will undergo a spiritual transformation; a complete rebirth.
See you on Sunday!