“Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
John 3:3 (context vv. 3-15).
He came at night. The questions are burning inside deep inside him and he desperately wants to understand. Nicodemus is a “ruler of the Jews,” (V. 1) and yet it’s not enough. He is unsure and must speak to Jesus, alone and I suppose, “off the record.” Yet he is the rare someone who feels ‘compelled’ to seek God, and will look just about anywhere for an answer.
Nicodemus is a pharisee, “a pure one,” and a teacher of the Jewish people, and yet he is bereft of real answers. He is looking for the missing piece, or maybe something much more then that, but he has to know that it is real and true. There are too many fakes out there after all. He has to know, so he goes to Jesus. Nicodemus needs to understand.
A little baby in a crib, brought to life by a mother’s painful love. It is to this kind of birth that our Lord points to as the very beginning of spiritual life. The real answer to Nicodemus’ questions do not involve ‘rehabilitation’ but rather transformation. Eternal life will not come by personal effort or by ‘working’ for it.
It’ll take nothing less than a new birth to change a person.
Yet somehow Nicodemus is confused by this. He’s trying very hard to “connect the dots” but his mind can’t comprehend the truths Jesus is saying. (A new birth? You’ve got to be kidding.) But Jesus isn’t joking and He isn’t purposefully making it hard for Nicodemus.
New births aren’t possible unless God intervenes. Being freshly birthed is a far cry from being rehabilitated. One is definitely God’s gift of salvation, and the other comes by human sweat and effort. We must understand that we can do nothing that will make us acceptable to God, we can only accept the new birth that He offers us.
It comes not through our effort, but by a repentant faith. We must become spiritually resurrected by believing in His Word, and allowing the Holy Spirit to give us real life. We start completely over it seems, radically receiving a spiritual life. Righteousness doesn’t come through sweaty, ‘grit your teeth’ determination, but by faith alone.
“If anyone belongs to Christ, there is a new creation. The old things have gone; everything is made new!”
2 Corinthians 5:17