“There was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. This man came to Jesus by night and said to Him, ‘Rabbi, we know that You are a teacher come from God; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him.’ Jesus answered and said to him, ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God’” (John 3:1-3).
One of the amazing things to see in life is the birth of a baby. I will never forget the amazing sight of video-taping the birth of my 2nd daughter as she was delivered via C-section from my wife’s womb.
However, as the text above shows, when Nicodemus came to Jesus, Jesus spoke of an experience all of us must go through if we are to enter into the kingdom of God. We must be “born again” (John 3:3). What does this mean? Nicodemus had a hard time understanding this. Initially, he thought Jesus was talking about one literally reentering his mother’s womb to be born again (John 3:4).
One of the interesting aspects in studying the Gospel of John is that in this Gospel account, Jesus is constantly trying to get us to think in spiritual terms, not physical terms. For example, He speaks of the water He gives which causes one to never thirst again (John 4:14). He also speaks of Himself as the bread of life (John 6:35). Jesus is not saying He gives literal water or that He is literal bread in either of these passages. He is speaking regarding what He has to offer is that which alone provides the spiritual nourishment that can satisfy our souls. Later, He says, “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life” (John 6:63).
As Jesus answers Nicodemus’ question about whether Nicodemus must literally reenter his mother’s womb to be “born again”, Jesus answers, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit” (John 3:5-6). Jesus is not talking about a physical rebirth, but a spiritual rebirth that involves both the Spirit and water. What does this mean?
The Holy Spirit is involved in the spiritual rebirth through His teachings as disclosed in the Word of God (2 Timothy 3:16-17; 2 Peter 1:20-21). What does the Holy Spirit teach regarding what a person must do be saved? One must believe in Jesus to be God’s Son (John 3:16), confess Jesus as their Lord (Romans 10:9-10), repent of their past sins (Luke 13:3), be baptized for the remission of those sins (Mark 16:15-16; Acts 2:38), and remain faithful to God all the days of their life (Revelation 2:10; 2 Timothy 4:7-8). When one submits to the teachings of the Spirit, He is born of the Spirit.
Jesus also mentions one must be born not only of the Spirit, but also of water. Being born of water refers to baptism which is the point in God’s plan of salvation where a person goes from being out of Christ to becoming a part of Christ (Galatians 3:27). As one in faith submits to baptism, that person goes from having no contact with Christ to contacting the blood of Christ which has the power to wash away one’s sins (Matthew 26:28; Acts 2:38; 22:16). As one is buried with Christ in baptism and raised to walk in newness of life, he is imitating Christ death, burial and resurrection (Romans 6:3-5).
Like the physical birth of my daughters, I will never forget the day of my spiritual rebirth when I obeyed the gospel and was baptized into Christ. Today, if you have not been born again I pray that you will. If you have been born again remember and rejoice in it!
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).