You Must be Born Again

John 3:1-15

Now there was a Pharisee, a man named Nicodemus who was a member of the Jewish ruling council. 2 He came to Jesus at night and said, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the signsyou are doing if God were not with him.”

3 Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.”

4 “How can someone be born when they are old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely they cannot enter a second time into their mother’s womb to be born!”

5 Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. 6 Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. 7 You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’ 8 The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”

9 “How can this be?” Nicodemus asked.

10 “You are Israel’s teacher,” said Jesus, “and do you not understand these things?11 Very truly I tell you, we speak of what we know, and we testify to what we have seen, but still you people do not accept our testimony. 12 I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things? 13 No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven—the Son of Man. 14 Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, 15 that everyone who believesmay have eternal life in him.”

You Must Be Born Again

Under the cloak of darkness, Nicodemus learned of a birth from above. As an old man, he needed new life—eternal life, life in the kingdom of God. But apart from the work of Jesus, he (no different than we) could not even see the kingdom of God, much less enter it. Becoming a Christian is a supernatural act of God’s generosity. We, like Nicodemus, are just as dependent upon God for our second birth as for our first birth. To be born of “water and the Spirit” is to receive the new heart and the sin-cleansing washing God promised for the age of the Messiah (Ezek. 36:24–35).

As someone steeped in the Old Testament, John had a great appreciation for the symbolism of water. Just as Jesus created the headwaters that flowed through the garden of Eden (Gen. 2:10–14), so he is the source of the life-giving river promised in Ezekiel’s vision of the end-time temple (Ezekiel 47). At his second coming, Jesus will “un-dam” the river of life and it will course its way through the new Jerusalem forever (Rev. 22:1–3). But even now, at his first coming, Jesus offers the firstfruits of living water to those who will bring their thirsty hearts to him (John 4:3–42; 7:37–39).

Jesus freely gives us new life by the supreme offering of his costly death—an event Nicodemus would witness firsthand (19:38–40). When Moses lifted the bronze serpent (representing God’s punishment for his people’s sin) in the wilderness (Num. 21:4–9), it was to rescue the Israelites from God’s judgment as they looked in faith to God’s provision for healing. When Jesus was lifted onto the cross (representing God’s punishment for his people’s sin), it was to enter the wilderness of God’s judgment for us, and those who look to him in faith for spiritual healing will also experience God’s provision.

*These devos are taken from Crossway's, ESV Gospel Transformation Bible.