“Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” (John 3:3)
“Am I saved from the penalty of my sin?” “When I die, will I go to heaven?” “Is there anything more important in my life than assurance of where I will spend eternity?” Were these questions the reason why Nicodemus came to Jesus that night? Were they what was on his mind?
As a member of the Jewish governing body called the Sanhedrin, Nicodemus represented the best and brightest in the nation. The Sanhedrin had 70 members who were responsible for all religious decisions, and also under the Romans, for civil rule.
Nicodemus came to Jesus at night. John did not say why, but it may have been out of fear, or it was the normal time for social visits, or Nicodemus just wanted a time of uninterrupted conversation without the distractions of the ever-present crowds.
We do know that Nicodemus came out of respect for Jesus because he referred to him as “Rabbi,” which means “teacher.” But although the title was polite and flattering, it may have also shown Nicodemus’ lack of understanding about who Jesus really was. Nicodemus knew that Jesus was from God and that God was with Him (because of His miraculous signs), but he didn’t know that Jesus was God.
It was after hearing the things that Nicodemus knew intellectually that Jesus answered what must have ultimately driven him to approach the Savior that night. Jesus addressed that deep desire to know about one’s eternal destiny by replying, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” (John 3:3)
Maybe you have talked with people about being born again as you have shared the Gospel with them. What kind of reaction do you hear from those who are unacquainted with the idea? Nicodemus was stuck on the physical rather than the spiritual when he asked how a person could enter a second time into his mother’s womb.
Jesus responded by saying, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” (John 3:5-6). [The water may refer to the natural birth, the Word of God (Eph. 5:26), a symbol of the Holy Spirit (John 7:37-39), or the repentance ministry of John the Baptist.]
Even though Jesus said, “Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again,’” I personally did marvel when I first heard this truth presented to me. I had thought of myself as being somewhat “religious,” but when I was presented with this truth, I knew that what I needed was a relationship with Jesus. And for that to happen, I needed to be “born again.” I needed a spiritual birth that could only come by repenting of my sin and placing my faith in Jesus as my Savior. Will you help others come to know the Savior? Ask them if they have been born again.