Monday, July 20, 2015

Devotion: You Must Be Born Twice


Continuing our conversation about being born again, enter the story of a Jewish religious leader whose heart, ears, and eyes were opened by what Jesus had said.

“There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews: the same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles (signs) that thou doest, except God be with him.  Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again (from above), he cannot see the kingdom of God.  Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old?  can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born?  Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.  That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit” (John 3:1-6).

After dark one night a Jewish religious leader named Nicodemus, who was a member of a particular sect of the Pharisees, came to speak with Jesus.  In case you did not know, the Pharisees were the most influential Jewish sect at the time.  Known for their somewhat arbitrary rules, the Pharisees were charged with knowing, keeping, and enforcing the oral laws of Moses as they interpreted them.  Anyway, Nicodemus told Jesus that they knew he was a teacher, who was sent by God because no man could do the miracles, which they all witnessed, except God be with that man.  Nicodemus told Jesus that his miracles were proof enough of who he was.  Jesus then says to Nicodemus, as earnestly as possible, “Unless you are born again, you can never see the kingdom of God.”  It is interesting to note that the word “see” is define in this context as “having knowledge of, understanding, or perceiving.”  Basically, Jesus is telling Nicodemus that man has no knowledge of the kingdom of God, that he does not have the ability to understand the kingdom of God, and that he cannot even perceive the kingdom of God unless he be born again, that is, unless he is born from above.

Nicodemus, puzzled by this statement asked, “What do you mean?  How is it possible for a man, who is old to go back into his mother’s womb and be born again?”  Then Jesus says to Nicodemus as earnestly as possible again, “Unless a man is born of the water and born of the Spirit, he cannot not enter into the Kingdom of God, for physical birth is not enough, you must be also born spiritually.”  Jesus goes on to say, “Man can only reproduce flesh, for whatever has been born of the flesh is flesh, but whatever is born of the Spirit is spirit, for the Spirit gives new life that is from heaven.”

So, Jesus told Nicodemus that a man who had not been born again had no knowledge of the kingdom of God.  The only understanding that a person who was not born again could get was the kind of understanding that the world offers, which has and continues to lead many into captivity (Isaiah 5:13).  Jesus told Nicodemus that everyone, including him, had to be born again, had to be born of the Spirit, had to be born from above.  But here is the key thing that so many have missed about this story.  This meant that those Jewish leaders, who were charged with knowing, keeping, and enforcing the oral laws of Moses as they interpreted them, we not immune.  They too had to be born again.  Jesus told these leaders that the physical birth was not enough for them to see the kingdom of God.  But what did all of this that Jesus was saying about being born again mean to those Jewish leaders?

The bottom line, Jesus told the Jewish leaders as well the Jewish people that they were not as special as they thought they were.  Jesus told them that everyone, Jews and Gentiles alike, would have to do the same thing in order to get into the kingdom of God.  Jesus told them that everyone, regardless of who they were or what they thought their status was, had to be born again; they had to be born from above.  Jesus made it sound as if the Jews were not a special people unto God anymore.  He made it sound as if they were not above all the people that were upon the face of the earth as they believed themselves to be.  Jesus put Jews and Gentiles together, having to do the exact same thing to get into the kingdom of God, which did not please the Jewish people, much less the Jewish leaders.  Do you think it might be possible that the Jews may have been chosen as a special people unto God for a different reason than the one that we have been taught all these years?  The possibility does exist.

May today’s inspirational message open your heart, your ears, and your eyes much the same way Nicodemus had his heart, ears, and eyes opened by what Jesus had said.  If you are blessed by this message, please share so that others may be blessed as well.  Amen.

Enjoy your blessings - KW

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