Summary: what Jesus taught Nicodemus about being born again
Intro: there is an old saying, “ if I knew then what I know now, things would be so different.” This saying conveys the thought, if I could live my life over how different it would be. I guess everyone has had the thought of living their life over and not making the same mistakes again. If you ever have really had this thought, the truth is this: if we lived our lives over, but still lived in the fleshly, carnal or worldly mode, we would still make so many mistakes and have so many failures. It is only as we learn to live a new life in Christ that we can really have the chance of starting over.
The Real New Beginning
Background: I think that this conversation with Nicodemus is one of the key stories in all of scripture. Jesus explains to a very devout teacher of the law that there must be a new beginning in all of our lives. That we must all start completely over. For this older man, the thought of starting over is so amazing, that he questions how hard it is to be grown and go back into your mother’s womb. Jesus was so amazed that a so called spiritual teacher couldn’t understand the difference between the flesh verses the spirit. What did Jesus convey to Nicodemus in this story that he didn’t comprehend that is needed to have a real new beginning in all of our lives.
I. Old Life Becomes New Life—v.3 the first thing that happens when someone gives their heart to Jesus Christ is they begin a brand new life. It isn’t just a continuation of the old life, it is a birthing into a new world.
· The old life is removed, the old sins are washed away, the past is forgiven and forgotten. Jesus doesn’t do make-overs, this concept was so amazing that Nicodemus couldn’t grasp it all. Grace is amazing, it isn’t theological, it isn’t rational, it is supernatural. God doesn’t just cover up our old sins, he completely removes them forever.
· It is a new identity—Jesus basically says, you get to start over, you are no longer the same person, your get a new name written down in glory. You are not identified with your old life, but you are identified with Christ. Your identification card has a picture of the cross on it.
· You get new eyes—you see the kingdom of God. In our old lives we see death, we see hopelessness, we see the vanity and futility of our existence. But that all changes in the new birth. We see life from a new perspective. We have eyes that see, and ears that hear, and a heart that receives. He said, He puts a new heart in us and we all know His voice.
Ill) years ago I was at Children’s Hospital when a man came out who had just had a new advanced eye surgery done. He was looking out of the 3rd floor window over Birmingham and tears were in his eyes. He said, this is the first time I have seen anything in many years. Jesus gives us new eyes, it is a brand new life.
II. Carnal Life Becomes Spiritual—5-7 the next part of this story is that this new life in Jesus Christ is one of absolute change. We no longer walk in the flesh to fulfill it’s desires, but we live in the Spirit.
· Nicodemus couldn’t grasp this either—that in this new life you change from a natural to a supernatural existence. You don’t walk under the power of this world, but you live life under the influence of the Spirit of God.
· You are led by the Spirit, you submit yourself to the leading of the Holy Spirit as you are born again. You aren’t guided by your natural desires, you aren’t driven by carnal pursuits, your life is spiritual, and the spirit man that was dead becomes alive, and the carnal man that was alive becomes dead.
· There is a type of this transformation process in the Old Testament where Jacob becomes Israel. He says, surely God was in this place and I knew it not. This is a picture of moving from an old life into a new one. When we are lost, in this flesh, there is no sensitivity to spiritual things, but when we receive Christ, we become sensitive to God in our world. Our spirit bears witness to the Spirit of God.
III. Earthly Life Becomes Heavenly—v.12-13 Jesus now gives that last aspect of this new beginning. In our old life everything we do is based on the temporary, the moment. When we are born again, our outlook is changed. We no longer have an earthly view of things but we see everything in light of heaven and eternity.