There was a Pharisee named Nicodemus, a Jewish leader. 2 He came to Jesus at night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God, for no one could do these miraculous signs that you do unless God is with him.” 3 Jesus answered, “I assure you, unless someone is born anew, it’s not possible to see God’s kingdom.” 4 Nicodemus asked, “How is it possible for an adult to be born? It’s impossible to enter the mother’s womb for a second time and be born, isn’t it?” 5 Jesus answered, “I assure you, unless someone is born of water and the Spirit, it’s not possible to enter God’s kingdom. 6 Whatever is born of the flesh is flesh, and whatever is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 Don’t be surprised that I said to you, ‘You must be born anew.’ 8 God’s Spirit blows wherever it wishes. You hear its sound, but you don’t know where it comes from or where it is going. It’s the same with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” 9 Nicodemus said, “How are these things possible?” 10 “Jesus answered, “You are a teacher of Israel and you don’t know these things? 11 I assure you that we speak about what we know and testify about what we have seen, but you don’t receive our testimony. 12 If I have told you about earthly things and you don’t believe, how will you believe if I tell you about heavenly things? 13 No one has gone up to heaven except the one who came down from heaven, the Human One. (John 3:1-13, CEB)
Good ol’ Nicodemus. How can a person be born again, can they enter the mother’s womb a second time and be born again? Well is that really what Jesus said?
The version above shows us in a different way, Jesus said, “born anew.” Literally the word Jesus uses here can be translated again, and it can be translated as from above. After Nic asks if one can be born again, Jesus says, “you have to be born of water and of Spirit.”
Now most people will say that means you have to be baptized. But does born of water mean baptism? I have witnessed 3 C-sections, as all of my daughters were born through C-sections, and I have to say there was water involved. And in natural child birth there is a lot of water involved. We are all born of water. Every last one of us, and that is not baptism. That is natural.
And so the only thing missing then is the above, the birth of the Spirit, and does this happen at Baptism? Well in the ELCA, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, we say that the baptized is marked with the cross of Christ and sealed by the Holy Spirit forever. But I have always had issue with this because it is like saying the only way the Spirit works is through this ceremony. And that is just wrong. The Spirit comes to a person when the Spirit wants to come, it doesn’t happen just because some pastor says those words.
So how are you born again? It is done by God, when God feels like it.
Just believe it.
Love People, Love God