“Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the Kingdom of God (John 3:3).”
Imagine the impact these words of Jesus must have had on Nicodemus. Nicodemus was a Pharisee. He is described in John 3:1 as a “man of the pharisees,” a “ruler of the Jews.” He was among the class of people who were respected and looked up to by the Jewish people of his day. He, and the other pharisees, were diligent in their efforts to live out the law – to do what God has required. And to him, to Nicodemus, whose whole life had been dedicated to observing God’s law in order that they might be included in God’s Kingdom, Jesus said, “No one can see, or enter, the Kingdom of God unless he (or she) is born again. The work Nicodemus had been doing was not sufficient to grant him entrance into the Kingdom of God. Nicodemus needed to be “born again.”
My friends Sean and Anne, (well actually just Anne) recently gave birth to a beautiful little girl named Julia. As I am writing this, she is approximately 50 hours old. She is flesh of Sean and Annie’s flesh and bone of their bone. She looks just like Anne. This of course makes sense; she is their daughter.
“Flesh gives birth to flesh” Jesus says, “And that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” To be brought into the world is a joint act between humankind and God. To be brought into the Kingdom of God is an act of God. It is only through the work of God that any person can be born into the Kingdom of God.
As Jesus spoke with Nicodemus he knew full well that Nicodemus’ acts would never bring Nicodemus into the Kingdom. If Nicodemus, or any of us, was ever to enter the Kingdom it would have to be a work of God. As Jesus spoke with Nicodemus about this He brought up the serpent that Moses lifted up in the wilderness and alluded to the time when He would be lifted up on the cross. Jesus knew that His own death and resurrection would be the means through which we and Nicodemus could be born again.
Today, through the power of God’s Word, and the waters of Baptism new life is created in His people. Through these same means faith is created, new birth is accomplished and the saving work of God is carried out. Praise be to God.