"There was a man named Nicodemus, a Jewish religious leader who was a Pharisee. After dark one evening, he came to speak with Jesus. "Rabbi," he said, "we all know that God has sent you to teach us. Your miraculous signs are evidence that God is with you."
Jesus replied, "I tell you the truth, unless you are born again, you cannot see the Kingdom of God."
"What do you mean?" exclaimed Nicodemus. "How can an old man go back into his mother's womb and be born again?"
Jesus replied, "I assure you, no one can enter the Kingdom of God without being born of water and the Spirit. Humans can reproduce only human life, but the Holy Spirit gives birth to spiritual life. So don't be surprised when I say, 'You must be born again.' 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."
"How are these things possible?" Nicodemus asked.
Jesus replied, "You are a respected Jewish teacher, and yet you don't understand these things? I assure you, we tell you what we know and have seen, and yet you won't believe our testimony. 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? No one has ever gone to heaven and returned. But the Son of Man has come down from heaven. And as Moses lifted up the bronze snake on a pole in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, so that everyone who believes in him will have eternal life.
"For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him.
"There is no judgement 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. And the judgement 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. All who do evil hate the light and refuse to go near it for fear their sins will be exposed. But those who do what is right come to the light so others can see that they are doing what God wants."
Then Jesus and his disciples left Jerusalem and went into the Judean countryside. Jesus spent some time with them there, baptizing people.
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. (This was before John was thrown into prison.) A debate broke out between John's disciples and a certain Jew over ceremonial cleansing. 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."
John replied, "No one can receive anything unless God gives it from heaven. You yourselves know how plainly I told you, 'I am not the Messiah. I am only here to prepare the way for him.' It is the bridegroom who marries the bride, and the bridegroom's friend is simply glad to stand with him and hear his vows. Therefore, I am filled with joy at his success. He must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less.
"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. He testifies about what he has seen and heard, but how few believe what he tells them! Anyone who accepts his testimony can affirm that God is true. For he is sent by God. He speaks God's words, for God gives him the Spirit without limit. The Father loves his Son and has put everything into his hands. 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 judgement."" (John 3:1 - 26, NLT)
This chapter of the book of John is crucial to all who refer to themselves as Christians, mainly because it talks about changing. If you are indeed a Christian, you would ponder what this chapter refers to when Jesus said, "You must be born again." So what does it mean to change? Of course, we're not talking about changing clothes, your hairdo, or fashion style. Nothing comes from the earth or the values thereof. The notion in this chapter seems mystical, but it's not. It's all about your heart, thoughts, and innuendos. That's all about you! After all, God gave His Son to save you, but you're not saved yet! It's more than just knowing its existence in faith. It talks about you changing your ideas and using His ideas to become yours. How do you do this? "You must be born again." Notice that this Bible passage used Nicodemus, a person whose presence existed some two millennia ago, as the example to explain. Nicodemus can only describe what he could understand: the earthly patterns of life. If the leaves of the trees fall, then winter is approaching, for example. So we can see that Nicodemus literally took Jesus' "born again" statement by replying with the relocation of the birthing process. The concept isn't mystical at all when you read further. A true, repented heart will give in to God's words and change that person. They will do what God wants, not the other way around.
The second part of this passage talks about baptism. Again, John's disciples think that the people who went to the other person for baptism will not get saved, which is similar to Nicodemus' line of thinking. John's correction to them gave us a clue needed to understand that Jesus baptized the people. And God gave Jesus this right to save them, just as God gave John the right to baptize them. Baptism started because of Jesus, but it doesn't mean that God does not provide the right for others to baptize. It meant more than washing the dirt off your body, of course. If you recall in John 13 what Simon Peter replied to Jesus about washing the disciples' feet, then you understand it has nothing to do with the outside cleansing. It's about people giving up to and for God. Just as bathing is giving up dirt and filth from the body, baptism is giving in to the agreement with God, parallel to the washing of sin.
Please, let me indulge you further in this chapter. Notice that the 'born again' passage preceded the baptismal part. Why is this so? We know God intends to save all of humankind. It's written in the scriptures, specifically in this chapter. So, does it matter which passage comes in first? It does.
(I have curtailed part of this to explain the whole in my upcoming book. Unfortunately, there are still ways to go before it is up for publishing. Keep the faith! The answer will come.)
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Diana s.f. ng
I love reading, writing, cooking, baking, and pets.