Have you ever noticed that some of the teachings of Jesus are hard to grasp.
Ultimately, what he said led to his crucifixion, and they are still offensive to the world today.
Sometimes we gloss over the hard sayings, or worse yet, we think that they don’t apply to us. But the teachings of Jesus are the Word of God to every generation.
In John 3, we read of a high-ranking Pharisee coming to meet with Jesus.
This well-known account of a senior leader a pharisee coming to Jesus to know more about Jesus. Nicodemus lived sincerely under the law as best as he could. He adhered to the strictest possible religious rules. But he desperately wanted to find out the truth about Jesus.
We see Nicodemus showing up a few times in the Gospel of John, a man who was not afraid to stand against the crowd and be identified with Jesus after his crucifixion. Nicodemus was bold and Jesus took time to meet with him.
Nicodemus doesn’t ask a question, But Jesus jumps right to the heart of the matter in verse 3, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God”.
Jesus knew his heart and the fact that he was seeking truth and cuts to the chase, he jumps into a difficult conversation.
A better translation of verse 3 could read, “unless one is born from above, he cannot see the kingdom of God”.
Can you imagine poor Nicodemus, he must have been quite confused. Jesus was using language that we are familiar with because we hear it all the time, but Nicodemus was hearing this for the first time, and it made no sense. The familiarity of what Jesus said can also be lost on us.
Obviously, we are by nature flesh, referring to our ordinary humanity. But we are born spiritually dead. We are not spiritually attuned to the things of God.
Ephesians 2 begins with the shocking statement, “And you were dead in the trespasses and sinsin which you once walked, following the course of this world,” Ephesians 2:1-2a.
Until you are born again, you are spiritually dead, you are unable to see or understand the things of God. The problem with spiritually dead people is that they don’t know they are dead.
Spiritually dead people are unable to hear God speak to them, because they do not have the Spirit of God in them, they have no desire to read God’s word, because it makes no sense without the Spirit’s revealing truth to us.
Tragically, spiritually dead people can raise their hands and come forward in a meeting, saying all the right things, get baptized and become good church members. Spiritually dead people can serve on committees and even teach Sunday School or lead a life group.
Sadly, when it comes to eternal salvation, the church might just be a dangerous place. Because you can put on a clean face, clean up your language, give money, even mouth the right prayers, but unless you are born from above, you are not a child of God, and you are destined for an eternity separated from God in hell.
Becoming a Christian is not becoming a better person or cleaning up your act, becoming a Christian is coming alive! Being born from above.
Nicodemus was spiritually dead, but the Spirit of God was drawing him in. That is what the Holy Spirit does, He makes people aware of their desperate situation and leads them to encounter the risen lord Jesus.
Nicodemus began to wrestle with the beauty of the Gospel, he asked Jesus in verse 4, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?”
You see, this leader and rule follower, this man of exceptional discipline and obedience, was looking for something to do, but the new birth does not come by a set of accomplishments. It is a free gift.
Jesus says to Nicodemus in verse 5, “unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.”
What does Jesus mean when he says, to be born of water?
Nicodemus would have known Ezekiel 36:25-26. Where God tells the nation of Israel that He will spiritually wash them of their sins, a washing that will come with the new covenant when God puts His spirit inside of believers (see Titus 3:5 and Ephesians 5:26).
Being born of the Spirit means to be filled with the presence of God by the Holy Spirit, it means coming alive spiritually. If you don’t know what it means to be born of the spirit, you will never know what it means to walk in the spirit.
Walking in the spirit affects every aspect of our lives, our decisions and plans are all led by the Spirit of God. How we steward our finances, how we interact with people, where we go and how we spend our time. Being born of the Spirit means that we will begin to display the fruit of the Spirit as described in Galatians 5:22-24.
If someone was to follow you around for the next 7 days, and see everything you do and hear everything you say, would they be able to testify that you are born of the Spirit?
Are you born again? Are you born of the Spirit of God?
Are you daily experiencing the power of the resurrected Christ in your life?