Scripture: John 3:1-8
1 Now there was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicode'mus, a ruler of the Jews. 2 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." 3 Jesus answered him, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born anew, he cannot see the kingdom of God." 4 Nicode'mus said to him, "How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother's womb and be born?" 5 Jesus answered, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 Do not marvel that I said to you, `You must be born anew.' 8 The wind blows where it wills, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know whence it comes or whither it goes; so it is with every one who is born of the Spirit."
Nicodemus was a closet disciple. He seeks Jesus out, though surreptitiously in the dead of the night. Why? Nicodemus is a "leader of the Jews", "a teacher of Israel" (3:10), and a member of the religious party most opposed to the teaching of Jesus. In fact, in John 12, the summary statement says that it was Nicodemus' own group, the Pharisees, which intimidated the authorities against confessing Jesus. Jesus does not directly answer Nicodemus' question. Instead he engages him in a seemingly unrelated topic of conversation. Jesus says that rebirth is necessary to enter the kingdom of God. Of course, Nicodemus the Pharisee has already found religion, so he thinks that Jesus must be referring to physical rebirth. No, Jesus responds, someone who is reborn spiritually knows the experience as surely as one who has been refreshed by an invisible breeze. How can a respected rabbi among the Jews not know this (3:10)? And that is precisely the point. Nicodemus is the first of what we might loosely call the official clergy with whom Jesus has personal engagement. In John, chapter 7, the Gospel portrays Nicodemus as a defender of Jesus' right to a fair trial (7:-51); in chapter 19, Nicodemus helps to bury Jesus with honor. Nicodemus did not understand the new birth which Jesus spoke of until the resurrection. What does it mean to be reborn? The new birth Jesus speaks of is a spiritual birth to new life and relationship with God as his sons and daughters. This new birth is made possible when one is baptized into Christ and receives the gift of the Holy Spirit. God wants to renew all his people in the gift of new life in his Holy Spirit. This new life brings us into God's kingdom or heavenly rule. What is God's kingdom? God's kingdom is that society in which God's will is done on earth as it is in heaven. Do you pray for God's will to be done? To be reborn is to enter that society in which God is honored and obeyed, to live as his son or daughter, and to enter into possession of that life which comes from God himself, a never-ending life of love, peace, joy, and freedom from sin and the fear of death. Do you know the freedom and joy of new life in Christ?
"Lord Jesus Christ, you offer us a new birth in the Holy Spirit. Renew in me the gift of faith and new life in your Holy Spirit. Help me to draw near to you and to believe in your life-giving word. May your kingdom come and may your will be done in my life today, tomorow, and always."