Bah Humbug, the more birthdays we celebrate the less we feel like celebrating. Our earthly birthdays are one of several events during any calendar year that we tend to mark by parties, gift giving or simply an exchange of pleasant greetings. Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, Happy Independence Day and of course, Happy Birthday. I remember as a child, looking forward to each birthday knowing that there was some surprise in store for me. Even now, my wife and family make each birthday special. Tools or toys, it doesn’t matter, I’ll take either one. For some though, including me there is another day more special than my birthday… my birthday. You see for some of us earthlings, (many are called but few are chosen) we have two birthdays. My favorite birthday is October 3, 1993. Thank you, Keith Gillum, Mickey Dunlap but most of all, thank you Jesus.
In John chapter 3, Jesus is secretly approached by one of the religious ruling class, a Pharisee named Nicodemus. He is astounded by the miracles that Jesus had been doing and thought to himself, if anyone can do the things that this man has done, God must be with him. He wanted to know more but, he was apparently afraid to approach Jesus while others were around so he could ask the questions that were searing his conscience. But instead of asking a question he states his observation, which by the way he would never say publicly… yet.
The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him.
Jesus’ curiously answers Nicodemus’ statement with another statement.
Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.
Nicodemus, a learned man, a Pharisee, a man who would have known more about the Law and the Prophets than any common man is stumped, thinking only in human, biological terms. Jesus’ goal is to get him to look at things from a heavenly, and spiritual perspective. Knowing the Law and the Prophets, Nicodemus should have recognized Jesus as the Messiah. Sadly, he too was looking for the earthly, political, military, social leader and redeemer of the Jews. Verse 7 says “Ye must be born again” Most translations state it like this; “a man must be born again”, other translation; “born from above.
ἄνωθεν, anóthen, is normally translated “from above” or “from a higher place” it is this rare occasion that it, because of the way Nicodemus’ responded, it is translated from the derivative “anew” or “over again”, thus we get “born again” I would submit to you that Jesus knows exactly what He’s telling Nicodemus. You must be born again from above. A direct statement of a new birth from the Spirit of God who is from above.
2 Corinthians 5:17
Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.
Paul and Peter both reference scripture as milk, an unmistakable implication of and to a newborn person. Not a physical infant but a spiritual one. 1 Corinthians 3:2, Hebrews 5:12-13, 1 Peter 2:2. You must be born again from above, born a second time with an eternal birth from above. The birthing that Nicodemus was perceiving only ends in death. In this dialog between Jesus and Nicodemus comes undoubtedly the most quoted verse from God’s Word. John 3:16. In John 3 verses 15 and 16 Jesus gives us the key to being born again from above. In the original text it sounds like this; “v. 15 everyone believing in Him may have eternal life. V. 16 everyone believing in Him not should perish but should have life eternal.” Everyone truly believing in Him has been born again by the Spirit of God from above and will spend eternity with Him.
You might say “I believe” and live like the once born person. Belief is more that knowing a set of facts. Belief is taking an action upon those facts. When I was in the National Guard, I helped build two suspension foot bridges across the Savage River in western Maryland. You know the kind with the cables that bounces up and down and sways from side to side. Standing on one side of the bridge you desire to cross to the other, you have faith that the builders of and the materials used will hold you as you cross. You believe it will be safe and therefore take the first step then another then another. You acted upon your belief. James chapter 2 is the case that if someone truly believes, that belief leads to action.
How about you? Have you been born a second time? Are you counted in the “whosoever believeth” group? John chapter 19 leads us to believe that eventually, Nicodemus did become a believer, he put feet to his faith to be counted among the followers of Christ at His burial, bringing about a hundred pounds of myrrh and aloes. Does your belief have feet? Do you recall the date of your most important birthday? Do you have a second birthday? If not, I pray that you would soon do so. Revelation 1:3 tells us there is very little time left. Make the most of every opportunity to have an impact for His Kingdom and for His Glory. Happy birthday!