Jesus declared, “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again” Jn. 3:3
Nicodemus was an influential Pharisee in the Sanhedrin during Jesus’ day. The cleansing of the temple had drawn the attention of the religious leaders, and Nicodemus wanted to see for himself what Jesus was all about. His conversation under the shroud of darkness produced one of the clearest declarations of the gospel recorded in scripture, John 3:16.
3 Now there was a Pharisee named Nicodemus, a leader of the Jews. 2 He came to Jesus by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God; for no one can do these signs that you do apart from the presence of God.” 3 Jesus answered him, “Very truly, I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above.” 4 Nicodemus said to him, “How can anyone be born after having grown old? Can one enter a second time into the mother’s womb and be born?” 5 Jesus answered, “Very truly, I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit. 6 What is born of the flesh is flesh, and what is born of the Spirit is spirit.
13 No one has ascended into heaven except the one who descended from heaven, the Son of Man. 14 And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, 15 that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.
16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.
17 “Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.
The phrase “born again” became prevalent in popular culture when Chuck Colson wrote an account of his religious conversion while serving as special counsel to Richard Nixon during the Watergate Scandal. Colson, known as the “hatchet man”, was given a copy of “Mere Christianity”, by C. S. Lewis during the unraveling of the Nixon administration. He became consumed by the claims of Jesus, and converted to Christianity:
I sat alone staring at the sea I love, words I had not been certain I could understand or say fell from my lips: “Lord Jesus, I believe in You. I accept You. Please come into my life. I commit it to you.” With these few words. . . came a sureness of mind that matched the depth of feeling in my heart. There came something more: strength and serenity, a wonderful new assurance about life, a fresh perception of myself in the world around me.” (Colson, Born Again (Baker Publishing), 2008.
He confessed to obstruction of justice, served seven months in prison, and started Prison Ministries as a result of this transformation. From a ruthless politician to a zealous reformer, his conversion was influential in the rise of the Evangelical movement in the United States.
Conversion involves a change of direction and intent. My father-in-law converted a dilapidated Datsun car into a riding lawn mower one winter in his machine shop. It went in as a car, it came out as a lawn mower. It was converted. When we meet Jesus, we go in as sinners and come out redeemed.
“For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God” (1 Peter 1:23).
Lord, we cannot spend time with you without being changed. When we see your love and understand your sacrifice, we confess our faith and invite you to transform us into children of God. Make us more like you. Amen