Read: John 3
Jesus answered and said to Nicodemus, “I tell you the truth, unless you are born again, you cannot see the Kingdom of God.” (John 3:3, NLT)
Nicodemus was a very bright man. He had given himself to much study and he’d grown quite famous as a teacher, but he had little wisdom as to how to be in right standing with God. He knew a lot about God, but he didn’t know God.
Nicodemus was rich. Tradition tells us that he was one of the three richest men in Jerusalem. But how much a person has does not change who they are! You can have plenty of money, lots of fame, an enviable place in life, but it doesn’t change the fact that you’re still a sinner in need of a Savior!
Nicodemus was not only rich, he was respectable. He was a member of the Sanhedrin, the prestigious ruling spiritual body of Israel. He was a rabbi. Jesus refers to him in verse 10 as “Israel’s teacher”, which suggests that he had attained celebrity as a master communicator. However, what you’ve achieved doesn’t change who you are before God. The truth is, hell will be populated with a lot of respected people, because admiration, though not necessarily a bad thing, does not equal salvation!
Nicodemus was rich, respectable, and he was religious. He was a Pharisee! He kept the Mosaic Law to the smallest detail. He was morally pure to a degree that you and I can’t imagine! But religion doesn’t redeem the heart; religious ritual is not the same as right relationship with God. Titus 3:5 reminds us, “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us….”
Nicodemus was a person who did all the right spiritual things, knew all the right spiritual language, had gained everyone’s spiritual admiration, but was still empty on the inside because he was still spiritually lost! That’s why Jesus said, “Nicodemus, you must be born again.” He is simply saying that human beings must have two birthdays to get to heaven. We must have a physical birthday and we must have a spiritual birthday.
Jesus uses the picture of physical birth to point out the need for spiritual birth because of the obvious comparisons. To begin with physical birth provides life. All babies have life because they are born! Likewise, spiritual life cannot begin until spiritual birth occurs. Not only that, physical birth means a brand new start. No baby is born with a past! They only have a future! So it is with the spiritual birth. When you get saved, you get a brand new start. Your past is wiped away and the future begins! That’s why Paul writes in II Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!”
Most profoundly, physical birth takes place because of the suffering of another. A mother literally, through the pain of childbirth, comes close to death in order to bring life into this world. Jesus didn’t come close to death—he experienced death so that you and I might be born again. Spiritual birth rests squarely upon the pain and suffering of another!
So what does that mean? It means that salvation requires a new beginning. Not just a reformation of your flesh, but a rebirth from death to life. It means that someone else had to die so that you could be reborn. That’s why you can’t do it on your own. It only comes through depending on the complete and adequate supply of God’s saving love through Christ’s suffering for your salvation. It means because of Christ’s adequacy, you can have a brand new beginning and an unending future with God.
Have you been born again? If you haven’t, I would suggest that you pray the prayer below. If you will pray it from your heart, you will be born again!
“A man can eat his dinner without understanding exactly how food nourishes him. A man can accept what Christ has done without knowing how it works: indeed, he certainly would not know how it works until he has accepted it.” ~C.S. Lewis
What If God Took Over?
Perhaps you should prayer this prayer of surrender: “Lord Jesus, I confess that I am a sinner. Please forgive me. I repent of my sins and turn to you. I believe that you died on the cross for my sins, and rose again from the tomb to give me eternal life. Come into my life and be my Savior and Lord. And with your help, from this day forward, I will live for you.”