Lesson 13

The Gospel of John

World English Bible translation

 Today's Scripture

3:1 Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. 3:2 The same came to him 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."

3:3 Jesus answered him, "Most assuredly, I tell you, unless one is born anew, he can't see the kingdom of God."

3:4 Nicodemus 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?"

3:5 Jesus answered, "Most assuredly I tell you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he can't enter into the kingdom of God! 3:6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh. That which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 3:7 Don't marvel that I said to you, 'You must be born anew.' 3:8 The wind blows where it wants to, and you hear its sound, but don't know where it comes from and where it is going. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit."

 Today's Lesson

Jesus' discussion with Nicodemus is one of the most interesting passages in this Gospel. Nothing is known of Nicodemus outside of John's Gospel. He is mentioned three times in it, this passage and two more toward the end of Jesus' life. He was a man of authority in Jerusalem, a teacher and ruler of the Jewish people. He was a member of the Sanhedrin, which was the ruling council. He comes to Jesus by night. He acknowledges the "signs" that Jesus' teaching comes from God. This does not mean that Nicodemus was a believer at this point. John has just written that many believed in Jesus' name because of "the signs", but He did not trust Himself to them. In any case, it is what Jesus says here that is of prime importance. Nicodemus is merely staging for the dialogue.


"I tell you, unless one is born anew, he can't see the kingdom of God." "Unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he can't enter the kingdom of God! That which is born of the flesh is flesh. That which is born of the Spirit is spirit."


It is a constant theme in every New Testament biblical text that God demands a new beginning. As Paul wrote in Ephesians, "You were dead in trespasses and sin and God made you alive with Christ." Biblical writers use words like salvation, repentance, and justification to describe it. Here Jesus adds to this lexicon of words to describe the work of God in a believer's life. "You must be BORN anew."


We are given a new birth, a new life. It is the life of God that comes to dwell in us. We are born "of the Spirit," that is, the Spirit of God. We are not in control of this process. It is an act of God. We no more control our rebirth than we controlled our physical births. To enter this world we must be born of the flesh. To enter the kingdom of God, we must be born of the Spirit. It is Christ who baptizes us in the Spirit of God, giving us new life. He is the midwife of God.


To be born of the Spirit is to enter the life and the world of the Spirit. When we were born of the flesh, it was natural for us to live by the flesh and see the world in terms of the flesh. We were sinners alienated from God. But, when we are born of the Spirit, it is natural for us to live by the Spirit. It is natural for us to see the world with the eyes of the Spirit of God. It is natural for us to be children of God. That is what we are. We are given new life and new birth. No one enters the kingdom of God that is not born of God.


With new life comes a new perspective and new responsibilities. Being born of the Spirit is a death experience and a life experience. When we are born again, our old self is crucified with Christ. It dies. The baptism in the Spirit is the death of the old life. After death, comes rebirth. If we die with Christ, we are also raised up to new life with Him. Just as He was raised from the dead, we too are raised to a new birth. It is a birth and a life that is lived in and with the Spirit of God. The Spirit is God. He is Lord. He brings the life of Christ into our lives. We experience His life living in us.


To be born again is the reason that we were created by God. It is God's purpose for us. Have you been born again, of the Spirit? Is the Spirit of God living inside you today?


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