Tuesday 01 July 2014

Bible Book:

“Jesus answered, ‘Very truly, I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit.’” (v. 5)

John 3:1-15 Tuesday 1 July 2014


The first half of John's Gospel (John1:1 - 12:50) tells us who Jesus is, and what was new about him.After presenting Jesus as the Word who became a human being (John1:1-18) and the recognition of him by John the Baptist and thedisciples (John 1:19-51), John's Gospel tells us howothers began to believe in him because he performed a number of'signs' (John 2:23) - including changing water into wine(John 2:1-12) and cleansing the temple ofunscrupulous traders (John2:13-22).

After taking a whip to the traders and arguing with thereligious leaders in the temple, Jesus is not the most welcomevisitor to Jerusalem for the Passover! But one leader, Nicodemus,is intrigued - so he meets Jesus in secret, at night-time.

Nicodemus has recognised that God is at work in the signs ofJesus (verse 2). But Jesus asks for more than recognition - heoffers a completely new start (verse 3). Those who want to see theKingdom of God need to be "born from above" (or 'born again')(verse 3) in "water and Spirit".

Yet Nicodemus, despite being a Pharisee, a member of theSanhedrin (the ruling council of the Jews) and a rabbi (verse 10)cannot understand what Jesus is saying. This is especially strangeas the rabbis spoke of converts to Judaism as having rebirth. Andthe prophet Ezekiel had also spoken of God cleansing the chosenpeople with water and the spirit for the Messianic kingdom (Ezekiel 36:24-28). But Jesus points out thateven the greatest teacher cannot control the spirit or wind of God.Without the spirit or breath, the flesh is dead (verses 6-8). (Bothin Greek and in Aramaic the same word means 'spirit', 'breath' and'wind'.) Some heavenly mysteries cannot be understood in earthlyterms. How can a poisonous snake bring healing? (Numbers 21:4-9). How can being raised up on across bring glory?

Thankfully, Nicodemus understood enough to become a disciple. Wesee him later in the Gospel asking that other Pharisees give Jesusa fair hearing (John 7:47-51); and after the crucifixion, he isthe one who provides the expensive spices to prepare Jesus's bodyfor burial (John 19:39-40). And no doubt he witnessed theraising up of the Son of Man …

To Ponder

  • How easy is it to spot when we are stuck in a rut and need afresh start?
  • What part does pride or position play in preventing us fromchanging?
  • Is there any significance in the order of "water and Spirit"?What difference would it make to speak of being born of 'Spirit andwater'? Why?
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