“In reply (to Nicodemus) Jesus declared, ‘I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again… I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit.’” (John 2:3,5)
It is assumed that Nicodemus was a well educated religious man. Certainly he knew the Old Testament well. Yet, here Jesus lays a puzzle upon him. Outward laws seemed to dominate all the religious leader’s thinking at this time and to go in an inner spiritual direction was uncharted territory. Nicodemus didn’t know what to say. He did not understand that Jesus was saying that there was power beyond obedience to the law that needed to be tapped if a person was to become a true follower of God.
God had to make a new creation out of a person. They had to be born again or more accurately, “born from above” by the grace of God. This would take place through the Holy Spirit, in Baptism and Saving Faith. Thus, a person would become a member of God’s Forever Family.
We must not forget that God is in the saving business, not us. He does it by the power of His Spirit. We can be introduced to Jesus, learn about Him and want to follower Him, but these are only decisions on our part, and not reality on His. He must change our heart and mind. We must become a new creation. This is the only way He works. Nothing short of this is acceptable. Let us praise Him for doing this recreating in us by His Spirit. We are now sealed for Himself.
Heavenly Father, thank You for sealing us into Your Heavenly Kingdom by Your Holy Spirit. We are new creations by Your work, not ours. Help us be Your instruments to help others be prepared to become new creations in You also by introducing them to Jesus. In His name. Amen.
Pastor Robert Forsberg is retired from Light of Christ Lutheran Church in Fairborn and is a weekly columnist.