Friday, March 21, 2014

John 3:1-15 (ESV)

1 Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews.  This man came to Jesus by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him.”  Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.”  Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old?  Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?”  Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.  That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.  Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’  The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”

Nicodemus said to him, “How can these things be?”  10 Jesus answered him, “Are you the teacher of Israel and yet you do not understand these things?  11 Truly, truly, I say to you, we speak of what we know, and bear witness to what we have seen, but you do not receive our testimony.  12 If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you heavenly things?  13 No one has ascended into heaven except he who descended from heaven, the Son of Man.  14 And 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.

This passage is one of the most unforgettable conversations in the Gospel of John.  Nicodemus, a Pharisee, comes to Jesus seeking understanding of Jesus’ purpose.  Jesus proceeds to instruct Nicodemus on the power of the Holy Spirit.  The message is a simple one.  One must be “born again” in order to enter the Kingdom of God.  When a person is “born again,” they are touched by the Spirit in a powerful way, which changes them for the rest of their life.  In this conversation, Jesus tells Nicodemus that the wind (pneuma) blows where it wishes and those who have not been born again hear it, but do not know where it comes from or where it goes (3:8).  Only a person who is truly “born again of the spirit” can understand this calling.  Our perspective changes when we are born again in the Spirit (Pneuma).  We begin to see things in a different way from the way we formerly saw them.  We begin to treat others differently – more kindly and more lovingly (agape).  We no longer think only about ourselves, but, instead, about the body of Christ.  More importantly, we come into a new relationship with God.  Our faces are willingly turned into the wind and it blows away everything that stands between us and God.  Leo Zanchettin tells us this:  “…those born of the Spirit are equipped with a new source of life, a share in the very life of God.  Through the Spirit, they have a new relationship with God.”[1]

Are you willing to turn your face into the wind?

Heavenly Father, breathe upon us your spiritual wind.  Turn us, Lord, so that we are changed and come into a new relationship with you.  Make us more like you every day, so that we may come into your Eternal Kingdom.  Amen.

[1] Zanchettin, Leo (2012-05-23). John: A Devotional Commentary (Kindle Locations 420-421). The Word Among Us Press. Kindle Edition.