Have you ever been concerned about what your friends would think if they knew you were going to church, to meet Jesus? Well the man we meet is not any random man; he’s a religious leader of another group of believers. Would you dare to search for truth no matter where it takes you? Find out what this religious leader himself didn’t understand about being born again…
5 Jesus replied, “I assure you, no one can enter the Kingdom of God without being born of water and the Spirit.[b] 6 Humans can reproduce only human life, but the Holy Spirit gives birth to spiritual life.[c] 7 So don’t be surprised when I say, ‘You[d] must be born again.’ 8 The wind blows wherever it wants. Just as you can hear the wind but can’t tell where it comes from or where it is going, so you can’t explain how people are born of the Spirit.”
9 “How are these things possible?” Nicodemus asked.
10 Jesus replied, “You are a respected Jewish teacher, and yet you don’t understand these things? 11 I assure you, we tell you what we know and have seen, and yet you won’t believe our testimony. 12 But if you don’t believe me when I tell you about earthly things, how can you possibly believe if I tell you about heavenly things? 13 No one has ever gone to heaven and returned. But the Son of Man[e] has come down from heaven. 14 And as Moses lifted up the bronze snake on a pole in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, 15 so that everyone who believes in him will have eternal life.[f]
16 “For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. 17 God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him.
18 “There is no judgment against anyone who believes in him. But anyone who does not believe in him has already been judged for not believing in God’s one and only Son. 19 And the judgment is based on this fact: God’s light came into the world, but people loved the darkness more than the light, for their actions were evil. 20 All who do evil hate the light and refuse to go near it for fear their sins will be exposed. 21 But those who do what is right come to the light so others can see that they are doing what God wants.[g]”
John the Baptist Exalts Jesus
22 Then Jesus and his disciples left Jerusalem and went into the Judean countryside. Jesus spent some time with them there, baptizing people.
23 At this time John the Baptist was baptizing at Aenon, near Salim, because there was plenty of water there; and people kept coming to him for baptism. 24 (This was before John was thrown into prison.) 25 A debate broke out between John’s disciples and a certain Jew[h] over ceremonial cleansing. 26 So John’s disciples came to him and said, “Rabbi, the man you met on the other side of the Jordan River, the one you identified as the Messiah, is also baptizing people. And everybody is going to him instead of coming to us.”
27 John replied, “No one can receive anything unless God gives it from heaven. 28 You yourselves know how plainly I told you, ‘I am not the Messiah. I am only here to prepare the way for him.’ 29 It is the bridegroom who marries the bride, and the best man is simply glad to stand with him and hear his vows. Therefore, I am filled with joy at his success. 30 He must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less.
31 “He has come from above and is greater than anyone else. We are of the earth, and we speak of earthly things, but he has come from heaven and is greater than anyone else.[i] 32 He testifies about what he has seen and heard, but how few believe what he tells them! 33 Anyone who accepts his testimony can affirm that God is true. 34 For he is sent by God. He speaks God’s words, for God gives him the Spirit without limit. 35 The Father loves his Son and has put everything into his hands. 36 And anyone who believes in God’s Son has eternal life. Anyone who doesn’t obey the Son will never experience eternal life but remains under God’s angry judgment.”
In John 1 we covered how we must become nothing to be able to obtain everything. John’s words towards the end of this chapter clearly reveal that he was pleased to become nothing while Jesus’ ministry continued to grow. The idea of being born of the Spirit is also expanded. Our old nature, born of blood and the desires of the flesh, cannot inherit the kingdom of God. Our old ways, the hereditary tendencies, our former habits, must be given up; because grace is not inherited. The new birth consists in having new motives, new tastes, and new tendencies. Those who are born into a new life by the Holy Spirit have become partakers of the divine nature and in all our habits and practices we will give evidence of our relationship to Christ. When people claim to be Christians but retain all their natural defects of character and disposition, how are they different from those who are in the world? We would not be appreciating the truth of a sanctifier, a refiner. We cannot claim to be “born again” and yet continue our old practices.
Yet, without the cross man could have no connection with the Father. Our hopes hang upon the cross. When we view the cross we can advance with steps of a conqueror. When we as sinners reach the cross, and look up to the One who died to save us, we may rejoice because our sins are forgiven. Kneeling at the cross we have reached the highest place to which man can attain. God is revealed in the face of Jesus Christ; and then the words of pardon are spoken: “Live, O you guilty sinners, live. Your repentance is accepted; for I have found a ransom.”
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Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.