In John 3 Jesus makes two cryptic statements to Nicodemus regarding birth. First, “No one can see the kingdom of God without being born again.” then as he restates it, “No one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and the Spirit.” (tNIV) Then Jesus seems surprised that Nicodemus doesn’t understand (v7, 10).
Jesus seemed to think that Nicodemus would understand his statements about the kingdom of God, and being born of water and the spirit. As a rabbi Nicodemus should have been familiar with passages like Ezekiel 36 where God promises cleansing and restoration for Israel. “I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean…I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you.” In the OT, water and the spirit often have to do with refreshing and cleansing, restoration and life from God. So Ezekiel provides a good lens for understanding Jesus’ statements.
I believe that Jesus also has in mind baptism when he talks of being “born of water and the spirit”, (see Jn 1:32-33 & Acts 2:38 for a connection between water baptism and the Holy Spirit) but not just as an act of obedience. In baptism we experience the promise of: cleansing, restoration, forgiveness and new life from God. It’s complete forgiveness accompanied by a complete life transformation, inspired by the Holy Spirit, much more than just keeping a command.
Have you ever had a moment when a difficult Scripture passage suddenly became clearer because you read a verse somewhere else in the Bible? As you look back in your life, how have you seen God’s transformation working in you? Have would you explain your “new life”?
Songs & Scripture
Next week is our ‘VISION SUNDAY”! We’ll take some time to reflect on God’s blessing to our church family in 2008 and to anticipate God’s work in 2009. What songs suggestions do you have for this type of service? (they don’t have to be in our hymn book, you may have just heard them on the radio or somewhere else.)
- Faith is the Victory
- God is so Good (SFP)
- Instruments of Your Peace (SFP)
- Count Your Blessings
- Had it Not Been the Lord (Zoe Group – 1998 album Our God Reigns)
- If You Say Go (released in 2002 by Vineyard Music Group)