Judges 18:22-31; John 3:1-15; Psalms 104:1-7; Proverbs 22:16
NT: “There was a man from the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. This man came to him at night and said, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God, for no one could perform these signs you do unless God were with him.” Jesus replied, “Truly I tell you, unless someone is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” “How can anyone be born when he is old?” Nicodemus asked him. “Can he enter his mother’s womb a second time and be born?” Jesus answered, “Truly I tell you, unless someone is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. Whatever is born of the flesh is flesh, and whatever is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not be amazed that I told you that you must be born again. The wind blows where it pleases, and you hear its sound, but you don’t know where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit… Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, so that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.”” (John 3:1-8, 14-15 CSB)
Nicodemus was a Pharisee that was sincerely intrigued by the signs that Jesus performed instead of being threatened by them. He was awake and observant enough to recognize that Jesus was anointed by God. The fact that he used the pronoun “we” suggests that he wasn’t the only one – that he was perhaps there as a representative of a curious group of leaders. Before Nicodemus even had the chance to ask a question, Jesus framed the conversation that was about to happen with a very definitive statement: “You cannot see nor fully understand the Kingdom of God unless you are born again from above.” When Nicodemus asked for more clarity, Jesus responded by explaining that everyone has a natural earthly birth (of water), but to see the Kingdom of God, understand the Kingdom of God, and enter the Kingdom of God, one must also have a heavenly spiritual birth. The Kingdom of God is a spiritual kingdom, so to fully grasp it and understand it, you must be born into a new spiritual nature, by the Spirit. Simply being religious is not being born again. Claiming your parents faith is not being born again. Identifying as a Christian is not being born again. Believing that Jesus is the Son of God is not being born again. Having your name on the membership role of a local church is not being born again. Being baptized or dedicated as an infant is not being born again. Jesus went on to foreshadow how people would be able to be born again and receive eternal, spiritual life. In Numbers 21:4-9, we read the story of how, because of their sin, the Israelites were plagued by poisonous snakes… and many were bitten and died (much like we have been poisoned by the sin of our life and are on the path to death). God told Moses to fashion a bronze snake and lift it up on a pole so that all could see it – and anyone who looked on the snake would not die. Jesus said, in the same way, I will be lifted up – and anyone who places their complete faith in me, they will not die but will be graced with eternal life. When we place our faith on Jesus and identify with His sacrifice, our fleshly sinful nature is put to death, we are born again into an eternal spiritual life, and enter into the Kingdom of God. To fully follow Jesus, to fully be transformed into His image, you must be born again.