Session 2: Be Born Again

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bronze snakeIn Session 2 of our Gospel of John study, we find a conversation between Jesus Christ and Nicodemus, a highly regarded leader of the Jewish ruling council.  Jesus had been preaching and teaching deep scriptural truths about God, while at the same time backing up His sermons by displaying God’s power over the natural world, over sickness, and over demons.   

Nicodemus respected Jesus as one who had come from God (John 3:2). But, Jesus did not waste time with formal introductions and small talk.  Instead, Jesus immediately answered the real question that Nicodemus had in his heart.  Jesus replied, “Amen, Amen. Unless one is born anew, one cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3). 

Born Again

The Greek word that Jesus used was anothen.  It has a double meaning, like a modern-day pun.  One meaning is that we need to be born from above, which refers to a heavenly (spiritual) parentage.  The second meaning is that we must be born again, a second time.  Nicodemus’ question, “How can a man be born a second time when he is old?” shows that the elderly teacher understood the second meaning only from the biological point of view.  So, Jesus went on to teach Nicodemus that the spiritual birth is similar but distinct from our physical birth in verses 5 through 8.

This birth is not obtained by physical biology, by education or other human effort, but by faith.  It is a spiritual rebirth, enabling us to live in the spiritual kingdom of God.  The kingdom of God is located where God rules.  And so it begins the moment you believe in Jesus Christ and accept Him as Lord and king over your life. 

One example of this principle is the account of the Israelites, who found themselves in danger by poisonous snakes in the desert.  God had Moses make a bronze serpent, and put it high on a pole, so that when the people looked at the bronze snake they would not die (See John 3:14-15).  How difficult it must have been to stop looking on the ground so they could avoid being bitten themselves, rather than finding supernatural protection by looking at the provision of the bronze serpent.

Love

Strangely, like the Israelites, we did not deserve to be saved because we have been so rebellious and ungrateful to God.  We deserved judgment and death.  Again, in one of the most famous Bible verses, John 3:16 provides a double-meaning by using the Greek adverb ootos to describe both the degree to which God loved (Greek: agapao) the world as well as the method in which He chose to express that love.  That method was that God gave His most precious gift, His Son, so that you could look to Him and obtain eternal life (See Romans 6:23). 

Eternal Life

And so here we find another double-meaning.  Eternal life does not just refer to the span of an everlasting life, but it also refers to the quality of life.  Jesus defined that quality in a prayer that is recorded in John 17:3.  He said, “Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.”  The quality of a kingdom life is knowing the heart of God and participating in His redemptive plan.  What a privilege it is to have this lovely and honorable relationship offered to you!  God loved you so much that He gave you His Son.  Have you unwrapped your gift?

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