Short Meditations in John 3: 3. Entry to the kingdom
Jn 3:3 In reply Jesus declared, “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again
Nicodemus has just mentioned miraculous ‘signs’. Such signs, for those with open hearts, point to God, such signs are an indication of the presence of the kingdom or reign of God and yet, says Jesus, no one can see this kingdom without being born again.
Now this is the first mention of this little phrase, about being “born again.” In some quarters this phrase is almost used derogatorily as if it is some weird Christian experience that those who might wish to be middle of the road should avoid, but that is as far from the truth as you could hope to be! It is a primary requirement of being a real Christian according to Jesus.
Moreover, this experience that Jesus is about to speak about, is key to seeing, understanding, or experiencing what Jesus refers to as ‘the kingdom of God’ which we suggested is another way of saying ‘the rule of God’. When Jesus performed miracles it was always God expressing His rule on His earth. Normally speaking, God has made this world to work by what we call materialistic scientific rules, or rules of nature, and we can do nothing to change them, but the One who made the world can! God can speed up healing processes, bring new life back to dead bodies, change water into wine, walk on water or do anything else He likes with His world, for He has the power to do that.
The challenge that Jesus now brings to Nicodemus is about transferring from a kingdom that uses words (where he is presently a ruler) to one where power is the currency, power to change and transform lives. One is man-inspired, the other is God-empowered, we shall go on to see. The big emphasis, we should see in this verse, is not so much about being born again, but on the reign or rule of God in and through us.
It is here that is the sticking point for many nice people who like traditional religion, who like to be in control of their lives. Talk about God ruling, God being the arbiter of all we do as ‘church’, God’s power transforming us, all this challenges the man-based life. Nicodemus is a human ruler who operates with human power and authority – what other people give to him. Jesus, on the other hand, deals with power to change the physical world, because he is the Son of God who has come to restore people to what God intended them to be originally, and that involves life-changing power, as we will go on to see as we follow this conversation along. The big issue that Jesus wants to bring before Nicodemus is God’s rule in our lives and that only fully comes about when the Holy Spirit enters a person and they are ‘born again’. That is why this is so important.