Daily Readings & Thought for April 11th. “UNLESS ONE IS BORN AGAIN”
Nicodemus was “the teacher in Israel.” What an impact Jesus was now having among the people! Obviously Nicodemus was so affected that he felt compelled to come to talk with Jesus, but he comes by night! He declares, “no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him” [John 3 v.3]. A fascinating conversation follows. John is to mention him twice again, first when he is questioning the Pharisees about Jesus (7 v.50) and then, remarkably, when he associates with Joseph of Arimathea, in binding the body of Jesus and placing it in the tomb. [19 v.39]
God’s inspired word intrigues us so many times, the more we read the more we want to read and pull together as much as we can the “hidden” stories; there are always fresh insights to be gained.
Jesus challenges Nicodemus, “Unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” “See” can be understood in the present tense – a person’s eyes are opened when they are “born again.” When is this rebirth? “How can a man be born when he is old?” asks Nicodemus.
It is a challenge to understand what Jesus means, when he answers, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he (or she) cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.””[3 v.5,6]
One is born of water by baptism and both John the Baptist and Jesus’ disciples are now baptising many (4 v.1,2) But baptism is of no value unless there is also a rebirth of the person’s spirit, a new way of thinking and outlook on life “Baptism,” Peter was to later write “is an appeal to God for a good conscience “ (1 Peter 3 v.21)
So we understand that baptism in water is of no value on its own. But, says Jesus, this rebirth of the spirit is like the wind, it is only seen by the affect it has on a person’s life. The wind cannot be seen, only its affects can be seen. The last verse in John 3 tells us, “whoever believes in the Son has eternal life” – that is – their names are “in the book of life” Yet those who falter after their spiritual rebirth are in danger of having their names blotted out of the book of life. (Rev. 3 v.5) Judas Iscariot is the glaring example.
Returning to John 3 we note that Jesus says that “being born again” creates for us a relationship with “the light of the world” and “whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his (her) deeds have been carried out in God.” [v.21] Let us all make sure that is true of us.