Summary: Why must we be born again, how should we be born again, and what is the nature of this new birth?
“The New Birth”
By: Rev. Kenneth Sauer,
Pastor of Parkview United Methodist Church, Newport News, VA www.parkview-umc.org
As many of you know, my wife, Jeanne is seven months pregnant. There is a little baby living inside of her…named Mary Ellen.
And even though Mary Ellen has not yet been born, Jeanne and I have already seen her on several occasions.
At the doctor’s office, through what is called an ultra-sound, we have been able to see Mary Ellen on a t-v screen.
We’ve seen her hands, we’ve seen her toes…and Jeanne, especially has felt her kick!
We’ve also seen Mary Ellen’s eyes, nose and ears.
And although Mary Ellen has eyes, she cannot yet see.
All of her senses are greatly limited right now.
She lays in the dark water of the womb waiting to be born.
And even though Jeanne and I have only seen her face on the t-v screen in the doctor’s office, we already love her…with a love which is indescribable.
I remember a conversation Jeanne and I had several weeks ago.
It went something like: “Isn’t this amazing. We have a human being who is growing inside of you, and yet we have so little to do with it.
We are not forming Mary Ellen’s eyes, nose, mouth, spinal cord, etc…
…this is happening without our having anything to do with the process.”
God is forming Mary Ellen in her mother’s womb.
God is creating the little girl that we will all come to know so intimately very, very soon.
As soon as Mary Ellen is born, she will begin to see light and the various objects that surround her.
Her ears will be opened, and she will hear sounds.
And all her other organs of sense will start to work their appropriate functions.
Yes, pretty soon, Mary Ellen will begin to breathe and live in an entirely different way.
And in a spiritual sense, prior to our being born again, or born anew, or born of God, or born from above…
…let’s just call it the new birth…
…prior to this new birth we are in a purely natural state of being.
We have spiritual eyes, but they cannot see.
“A thick impenetrable veil lies upon them,” as John Wesley put it.
We have spiritual ears, but we cannot hear; we are completely deaf to what we hunger most to hear.
And our other spiritual senses are closed as well.
They have not yet been born!
And just like Mary Ellen has no real understanding, right now, of the world she is being prepared to enter…
…we have no real understanding of the spiritual or eternal things of God.
Although we are living persons, we are dead to God. We do not know Him.
But God knows us and loves us and is ready to birth us as soon as we are ready to allow Him to do so.
As soon as we allow the Holy Spirit of God to live inside of us…
…as soon as we open the door of our hearts and allow Jesus…
…Who is always standing outside knocking—come in and abide in us…
…As soon as we do this, we experience our second birth, the new birth!
And as soon as we are born of God
our spiritual eyes are opened and we are able to see the light of God shining in the darkness.
Our spiritual ears are opened and we are able to hear the inner voice of God speaking love and forgiveness—causing us to love…to really love for the very first time!!!
And to live…really live for the very first time!!!
Grace descends into our hearts, and prayer and praise ascend to heaven.
And through this vital union between God and God’s children, the communion with the Father and the Son is a type of spiritual breathing, by which the life of God lives in our souls.
In our Gospel Lesson for this morning a man named Nicodemus is talking to Jesus.
Nicodemus must have seen something in Christ, that Nicodemus did not yet have…but what was it?
“Rabbi,” Nicodemus says, “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.”
“In reply Jesus declared, ‘I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.”
Now what in the world is that supposed to mean?
Nicodemus’ reaction is basically, “I’ve already been born. As a matter of fact, I am now an old man. I can’t just re-enter my mother’s womb and be born again!”
“Jesus answered, ‘I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit.”