May 21 I Friday
1 Chronicles 13-15
“Jesus replied, ‘Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.’ ‘How can someone be born when they are old?’ Nicodemus asked. ‘Surely they cannot enter a second time into their mother’s womb to be born!’” —John 3:3-4
John the Baptist was baptizing people in the desert with a message from God that called people to repent of their sins and be baptized. Many people from Jerusalem and Judea were being baptized by John in the Jordan River, but one group of people resisted––the Pharisees, who were the religious leaders of Jerusalem. Although they went out to study what John was doing, there was no record of them confessing their sins and being baptized because they believed others needed repentance and not themselves.
Among the religious leaders in Jerusalem watching all this was Nicodemus. He had been in synagogue all his life, was well respected and well behaved. Nicodemus represents the best of our efforts to be righteous. Deep down in his theology, Nicodemus believed that his devoted life earned him God’s favour.
But all this changed the night Nicodemus went to see Jesus, saying, “Rabbi, we know that You are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the signs You are doing if God were not with Him.” Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again” (John 3:2-3). Jesus addressed the problem at the heart of all world religion and that is this: How good is good enough? Can our religious efforts earn favour with the holy God? Jesus cut right to the heart of Nicodemus’s theology and moved Nicodemus’s curiosity as to who Jesus was to utter confusion.
Being an expert theologian, Nicodemus was probably thinking back through all of the Old Testament books wondering where it talked about being born again. This highly educated and respected man started to question, “How can someone be born when they are old? Surely they cannot enter a second time into their mother’s womb to be born!” (John 3:4).
Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit” (John 3:5). What exactly was Jesus saying to Nicodemus by this statement? We could interpret it as, “Hey Nicodemus, the whole of the spiritual life is not about becoming a better you. Christianity is not a behaviour modification program; it is about a whole new creation.” Jesus declared that the best of humanity’s effort to satisfy the holy God is completely defective; one must be born again. 2 Corinthians 5:17 tells us, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: the old has gone, the new is here!” Are we a new creation in Christ or are we trying to refine or remodel ourselves to be acceptable to God?
Prayer: Precious Jesus, convict my heart for believing that my best human effort can satisfy God. Thank You that in You, I am a new creation. Amen!