Day 20: Born Again
"But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.” John 1:12-13
Text: John 3:1-15
Our text today comes from the third chapter of John’s gospel. Here we see the Jewish Rabbi Nicodemus come to Jesus at nighttime. There are a couple of reasons he probably came at this time: 1.) it was a sign of respect to come to another Rabbi to ask something of him, and it would make more sense to come at night when Jesus was not ministering; and 2.) Nicodemus very well might have been worried that the other Jewish people would see him, and he did not want to get on their bad side. So the teacher of Israel comes to The Teacher, ostensibly to ask a question. But he does not get the chance to do so. Jesus responds to his first statement, acknowledging that Jesus came from God, with a non sequitur: “Unless one is born again, he cannot see the Kingdom of God.”
What does it mean to be born again? Why is it necessary? What do we need to know this? These are the questions that Nicodemus asked of our Savior, and so it is to these questions that we now turn.
What Does It Mean?
“Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.” – John 3:5
Nicodemus is understandably confused when confronted with Jesus’ statement in v3. He was thinking of earthly birth. He was already born, as evidenced by his sitting before Jesus. How was he to be born again? Jesus responds with a profound statement about the nature of the people of God: unless a person is born of the Spirit, they cannot enter the Kingdom of God. In a nutshell, to be born again is to be born of the Spirit. This is the doctrine of regeneration that we learned about in service this past Sunday. To be born of the Spirit means that we have had a renewal of our being wrought in us by the Holy Spirit. We are given a new heart, our mind is illumined to the knowledge of Christ, our wills are renewed, and the Spirit of God dwells in us (Ezekiel 36:26-27). God makes such radical changes within us that Jesus dubs this change as being born again.
Why Is It Necessary?
“That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” – John 3:6
Jesus does not stop there with His explanation to Nicodemus. He continues in explaining that like begets like. The reason a believer has to be reborn relates to the nature of the problem with humanity. In the fall, sin touched every fiber of our being, and nothing within us is unaffected by sin. This fallen state of humanity is referred to as being in the flesh; and in the flesh, we are completely hostile to God and everything for which He stands (Romans 8:7). Moreover, those in this state are spiritually blind and cannot see the Kingdom of God (John 3:3) or believe in the sufficiency of the works of the Savior (John 3:12-15). As we saw a few weeks ago in the Parable of the Wedding Feast (Matthew 22:1-14), those without the rebirth are spiritually deaf and unable to heed the call of the Lord. Finally, we are helpless in this state; we can no more chose our second birth than we could with our first. It is worse than that, really. Even were the choice given to us to be born again, in the flesh we would always, 100 our of a 100 times, not chose to do so. In our flesh, we are in a sad estate indeed.
Why Is This Important To Know This?
"No one has ascended into heaven except he who descended from heaven, the Son of Man. And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life." – John 3:13-15
Jesus was not simply speaking to Nicodemus to confuse him. He was making a greater point to the teacher of Israel, and those of His disciples listening. It should not be surprising when people do not believe in Jesus, regardless of the works they see Him doing, whether those be the works the Jewish leaders saw or the works He has brought about throughout history in the spread of His dominion and power over the world since His resurrection. In our natural fleshly estate every person on the face of the planet is adverse both to the message of the Gospel and having Jesus as Savior and Lord. The world hates Him (John 15:18). The unregenerate person walks about in darkness, just as Nicodemus, and Jesus’ words confuse them. But believers have been reborn of the Spirit, and though we live in a land of deep darkness, we have seen a great light. What we were powerless to do, God accomplished within us by sending Jesus to us in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin (Romans 8:3-4). He has given us His Spirit, making us able to ready to believe in our Savior. Now we go to Jesus most willingly, with our eyes opened to His glory (John 1:14) and our ears ready to hear His voice (John 10:27) and our feet ready to follow Him, because in Him we find the words of life (John 6:68).
Praise the Lord for His gift of rebirth!
More in Lent Devotionals 2023
March 17, 2023Day 21: The Old Made New
March 16, 2023Day 20: Born Again
March 15, 2023Day 19: Heirs