Summary: “Born again.” How often have you seen this phrase in a news story or a magazine feature? It seems like everything and everyone is born again.
“Born again.” How often have you seen this phrase in a news story or a magazine feature? It seems like everything and everyone is born again. A restaurant changes its menu, and its labeled “born again.” A man changes jobs, and his career is “born again.” A quick search on the internet produces hundreds of sites, many of them are religious. But there is an odd assortment of other uses for the term “born again.”
Born again- A trademark line of skin creams
Born again- Used book store
Born again- A cd title by the Notorious B.I.G. with explicit lyrics
Born again- Motorcycles
Born again- Bear, a company that recycles furs into teddy bears
Larry Flynt, the publisher of a pornographic magazine has claimed he is born again. Jim Jones claimed to be born again, and yet he led hundreds to death and sorrow.
One of the greatest of all Biblical terms has been stolen, emptied of its meaning, and dragged through the mud, so that being born again can mean almost anything or nothing. We need to rescue it and return it to it’s proper place. Today when a person says he is born again we cannot be sure what he means. The mere use of the word tells us almost nothing.
The truth, however, is that when one is really born again, there is repentance, a work of the Spirit in the life, and a change so that the whole being is brought into new life. Lets look in detail at this conversation between Nicodemus and Jesus, in which our Lord explained what it meant to be born again.
Verse 1 “Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a member of the Jewish ruling council.”
If we had lived in Christ’s day and had been forced for some reason to choose a man to represent us, a man who would embody the best of our culture, education, ethics, and piety, Nicodemus would have been a good choice. Nicodemus had everything and yet was a failure spiritually because he had never found God.
Notice his achievements. First of all, Nicodemus was a Pharisee. One of the primary characteristics of the Pharisees was their seriousness to God’s Law. Let me give you an example using the Sabbath law. The Bible simply said to remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy, and on that day no work is to be done. Now the Pharisees were not content with that, so they spent hour after hour and generation after generation defining what work is and listing the things that may or may not be done on the Sabbath day.
The kind of thing they did was this. To tie a knot was considered work; but they had to define what a knot was. They said that certain knots could be tied and certain knots could not be ties. For example, the knot of a sailor and the knot of a camel driver could not be ties and if you tied them on the Sabbath day you would be guilty of breaking the Sabbath. You were even guilty if you untied them. Any knot that you could tie with one hand was perfectly legal. A woman could tie her sash, and you could tie the straps of your sandals. (Give example of man at well.) That was the kind of thing which to the Pharisee was a matter of life and death; that was religion; and to them was pleasing and serving God.
Nicodemus was also a politician. John says that he was a member of the Jewish ruling council. That means he was a member of the Sanhedrin. The Sanhedrin was a group of seventy men who had jurisdiction over every Jew on earth. It conducted trails, investigated heresies, and wrote laws. Nicodemus was a member of this governing body.
Nicodemus had everything, power, position, prestige, wealth, but something was missing. He needed to know God. Perhaps you have a long list of achievements but still sense something missing. Maybe you were told that you would find fulfillment in a higher education, power , prestige, or money and you still feel lost. Like Nicodemus your greatest need is to know God.
Verse 2-3 “(2) He came to Jesus at night and said, Rabbi, we know you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the miraculous signs you are doing if God were not with him. (3) In reply Jesus declared, I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.”
Do you feel like you missed part of the conversation? Just as all of us have experienced physical birth which made us a part of this earth; if we want to go to heaven and belong to the heavenly kingdom, you must be born into it also. You cannot evolve into it from the other.