Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, unless you are born again, you cannot see the kingdom of God” (v.3).
The other day I noticed a bumper sticker on the back of an SUV that read, “Born right, the first time.” I can’t be certain, but there’s a good chance the message is a reaction against being “born again” as a believer in Jesus.
The phrase “born again” originated with Jesus. In John 3, Jesus told a religious leader by the name of Nicodemus (who was interested in learning more about Christ) that “unless you are born again, you cannot see the kingdom of God” (v.3).
Jesus’ bold statement seemed to perplex Nicodemus (v.4). To be honest, I think I would have been a bit bewildered too. Turning water into wine is one thing (John 2:1), but having to return to your mother’s womb and go through the birthing process twice—that seems a bit bizarre.
Once again, however, there was a deeper meaning to Jesus’ words. Bible scholars tell us that the phrase translated “born again” is normally translated “born from above.” Jesus went on to clarify to Nicodemus that He was not speaking of physical birth. He was referring to a spiritual birth through God’s Spirit—“Humans can reproduce only human life, but the Holy Spirit gives birth to spiritual life” (3:6).
According to Jesus, entrance into God’s kingdom requires the miracle of a spiritual birth from above. We don’t know how long it took for Jesus’ meaning to finally sink in, but Nicodemus began to grasp the good news. As one Bible commentator put it, “Nothing in the Judaism he knew offered anything like this.”
Jesus further explained to Nicodemus that God sent Him to offer the miracle of a new birth and the promise of eternal life in His kingdom to anyone who “believes in Him” (John 3:16). Yes, we have been born twice by God’s grace!
Read Ezekiel 36:25 and note how God used the prophet to point to the day when people would be born again.
Why do some people vehemently disagree with the idea that we need to be born twice? How has being born again changed you?