Meeting Jesus – Mind to Mind – John 3, by Ty Tamasaka
4 “How can someone be born when they are old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely they cannot enter a second time into their mother’s womb to be born!”
5 Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. 6 Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit[q] gives birth to spirit. 7 You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You[r] must be born again.’ 8 The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.” John 3:4-8 NIV
Last time we saw Nicodemus meet Jesus face to face. In verses 4-8, we see Nicodemus meet Jesus mind to mind. Nicodemus is confused by Jesus telling him to be born again. Jesus then goes on to confuse Nicodemus even further.
“Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit.” John 3:5 NIV
In this devotion, we will explore the two things that Jesus said are needed to enter the Kingdom of God. He mentioned being born of water and the Spirit.
1 – Water
Some believe that when Jesus said being “born of water and the Spirit,” that the “water” refers to water baptism. There are three reasons I DON’T think this is the case.
1 – Water baptism identifies with death, not birth (Romans 6:1)
2 – If water baptism is NECESSARY for salvation, no one in the Old Testament was saved because there was no water baptism under the Law and the Old Covenant.
3 – Hebrews 11 identifies the great saints who were saved by faith. Salvation is not by works, according to Ephesians 2:8-10, and water baptism is a human work.
So what was Jesus talking about? Others suggest Jesus was talking about physical birth. All physical births are technically “born of water.” While this makes some sense, I believe Jesus was talking about being born again by spiritual means. I believe the water Jesus refers to in verse 5, refers back to Ezekiel 36:24-28 NIV.
“24For I will take you out of the nations; I will gather you from all the countries and bring you back into your own land. 25 I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. 26 I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. 28 Then you will live in the land I gave your ancestors; you will be my people, and I will be your God.” Ezekiel 36:24-28 NIV (emphasis mine)
If Jesus is referring back to Ezekiel 36:24-28, in John, He is calling Nicodemus and the readers of this book to be cleansed in water and to receive a new spirit. He is calling them to renew their commitment to an ancient covenant. Then He calls them to be “born of… the Spirit.”
2 – The Spirit
The Jews is Jesus day understood the Old Testament’s promise of the New Covenant from passages like Deuteronomy 30:1-6, Jeremiah 23:1-8, Jeremiah 31:31-34, Jeremiah 32-37-41, Ezekiel 11:16-20, Ezekiel 36:16-28, Ezekiel 37:11-14, and Ezekiel 37:21-28.
In Jesus’ day the Jews were watchful of these three promises in the New Covenant.
1 – The re-gathering of Israel.
2 – The cleansing and spiritual transformation of God’s people.
3 – The reign of Messiah over Israel and the whole world.
They thought the first two parts of the New Covenant were fulfilled. The believed Israel was re-gathered after the Babylonian exile. The believed the rise of strong spiritual movements like the Pharisees fulfilled the second promise of cleansing and spiritual transformation. All that was remaining was the coming reign of Messiah.
Jesus’ statement seemed strange because Nicodemus thought the new birth had already come.
In their conversation, Jesus told Nicodemus that he still needed to be born again. Jesus shattered Nicodemus idea that his racial identity – or his old birth – assured him a place in God’s Kingdom. Jesus instead told Nicodemus that he needed to be “born of water and the Spirit.”
Flesh, Jesus explained, gives birth to flesh. The Spirit gives birth to spirit, and as a result, new birth can only be produced by spiritual means. How does the Spirit give new birth to our spirits? I believe it is when the Spirit of God, uses the Word of God to produce faith and impart a new nature upon people when they believe.
“23 For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God.” 1 Peter 1:23 NIV (emphasis mine)
“63 The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you—they are full of the Spirit and life.” John 6:63 NIV (emphasis mine)
The Spirit of God is born in us through the Word of God, cleanses us and releases a new spirit in us.
While this might be difficult teachings to grasp, Jesus gives some comfort in the following verse.
“8 The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.” John 3:8 NIV
When we meet Jesus mind to mind, this is important for us to recognize. We don’t understand everything about the wind, but we do see its effects. That is how things are with being born again. We won’t understand everything about it, but we will see the effects.
Jesus wanted Nicodemus to know that he didn’t have to understand everything about new birth before he experienced it. Neither do we. There will always be an element of doubt. There will always be an element of the unknown and that which we don’t understand. That is why being born again requires faith. That’s what happens when we meet Jesus mind to mind. We don’t receive all the answers up front. We don’t know the outcomes in life beforehand. Come to Jesus. Be born again.
Thank You God for Your Word and Your Spirit. Thank You for new birth and new life in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
Ty Tamasaka is an author who hold a Master of Arts Degree from Pacific Rim Christian University in Christian Ministry He is a Bible teacher who loves to encourage people to enjoy Jesus’ grace and extend His Kingdom. Ty just released his new book More than a Conqueror: 5 Pathways to Personal Revival.