There was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews 2 This man came to Jesus by night and said to Him, Rabbi, we know You are a teacher come from God; For no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him.” 3 Jesus answered and said to Him “most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” 4 Nicodemus said to Him, “how can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?
Nicodemus came to Jesus under the cover of darkness because his heart was full of darkness. Yet Nicodemus new that his life lacked something.
He had been impressed by the story the disciples told about Jesus turning the water into wine. The cleansing of the temple had been shocking, but beyond that it appears Jesus had performed other miracles during or just after the Passover that had also made an impression on this Pharisee.
So Nicodemus a ruler of the Jews came to Jesus, not calling him a prophet or the messiah, but saying, “Rabbi, we know You are a teacher come from God.” Despite all the evidence so far displayed by Jesus and all the Prophecies that Nicodemus being a religious teacher of the people should have known, he fails, or refuses to acknowledge Jesus as the Messiah. Instead he calls Him Rabbi who had been sent by God. Even to Nicodemus along with the Jews it was evident that there was something different about Jesus and Nicodemus was willing to admit that, just not that he could be the Messiah.
Nicodemus was a proud man, and undoubtedly over the years he had studied with gentiles who wished to accept the Judean faith. When these gentiles accepted the teaching of the Jewish faith, they were baptized in the same manner in which John the Baptizer would baptize people. This process of changing from a gentile to a Jewish convert was called being “born Again.”
Jesus answered and said to Nicodemus, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of heaven.”
What a shock this must have been for the proud Pharisee to hear. “Unless one is born again.” Nicodemus clearly understood what Jesus meant, yet his pride refused to allow him to accept what Jesus said to be applied to his own life. We know this by the answer that Nicodemus gave in response. “Nicodemus said to Him, ‘How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?’”
This is a legitimate question, for it is clearly impossible for one to enter their mothers womb a second time and be reborn, except as It references to the process of conversion similar to the change that would take place in a Gentile, as he accepts the teaching of Judaism, surrenders his life in baptism and becomes a follower of God.
But to the proud Pharisee, this was a hard pill to swallow, hearing that he himself needed the same conversion process the gentile converts did. Thus, he sarcastically responded by throwing it back at Jesus, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?”
Dare I say, there is not a person among us today that cannot go through a conversion process to make us more fitted to the kingdom of heaven.
When I look at my life, I see things that need to be changed for me to better reflect the character of God through my heart and through my life.
But like Nicodemus, pride, friends, things of this earth that we think is more important than a relationship with Christ get in the way of us being born again.
But Christ said, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Often we have the same response of Nicodemus, we see that God is capable of doing wonderful things, yet we see the evidence of his power and his love, but we still do not surrender our hearts, and instead continue in pride to cling to the things of this earth, the power, the prestige and money, the fame that comes from being a leader among mankind, even a leader in the church as Nicodemus was with all that comes with it, we still need to be born again.
But there was a deeper meaning than just mere conversion that Christ had in mind when He said, “unless one is born again.” Jesus was not talking about actual physical birth, but that we should all be reborn spiritually with the teachable spirit of a new born baby. And as a faithful mother and father instill the great principles of love and grace upon their new born child, our heavenly Father desires through the atoning sacrifice of Jesus and the power of the Holy Spirit working within the hearts of all those that have become born again to daily teach us as new born Christians, that which we need to know to become true disciples of Jesus and have Christ live out his life from within us.
Although Nicodemus answered sarcastically, Jesus answered with the clues necessary for us to understand what this process of being born again is all about. We will explore this in our next post.