What does it mean to be born again? Let’s set aside all the cultural clutter of what we think it means and try to hear Jesus afresh. Because as we’ll see, to be born again into this new birth, to be regenerated by God, is at the very heart of why Jesus came.
In this passage, we see an existential conversation between Nicodemus and Jesus about the pathway to eternal life. As we explore this concept of New Birth, we’re going to answer six questions:
- Who needs it? From the most religious and moral to the very least, we all must be born again. If Nicodemus needs to be born again, we all do.
- What is it? To be born again is to have a brand-new recreated spiritual life. Jesus is telling Nicodemus that to see the Kingdom, to enter into it, you need this new life. Your resumé won’t get you in. You need to be born again.
- Who does it? New birth is the work of the Spirit alone and it is totally beyond our control. Jesus is telling Nicodemus that the one thing you need is the one thing you have no control over. After all, babies don’t give birth to themselves. Someone else does it. Through the pain, agony, and suffering of another a new life is born. We cannot save ourselves; someone else must do it for us.
- How does it come? We are born again as we look in faith to Christ alone. You don’t have to run, crawl, or reach out. All you have to do is look to Jesus in faith and you will be saved.
- Why do we need it? New birth in Jesus is the only antidote for the venom coursing through our veins. Jesus is saying that everyone has been bitten by the deadly sting of sin, including Nicodemus. All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and the wages of that sin is death. You see, we usually divide the world into good and bad people. Good people get salvation; bad people get condemnation. Jesus turns this concept upside down by saying that everyone needs to be born again regardless of their works.
- What is in the way, and why doesn’t everyone just look to Jesus for salvation? To be born again, the only thing we need is nothing, but it’s the one thing most of us don’t have. Jesus is calling Nicodemus to lay his resumé down, because there’s nothing he — or we! — can do to save ourselves. We have to look for salvation by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone.
Takeaway: Look to Christ and Christ alone! Your religious resumé cannot save you. Salvation is by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone.