“Marvel not that I say you must be born again”. These are the words of Jesus to possibly the most prestigious and learned teacher of all Israel. A teacher who was confused and bewildered by this concept because he was so tangled up in his religion, his works, his keeping of the law, his commitment to tradition and his reliance on his own ability to gain God’s favor. He was what we consider today to be a learned theologian, a preacher and teacher of God’s word, a counselor of God’s people and pastor. Here was someone who should have understood that he was personally unable to gain God’s favor by doing anything good to obtain a right relationship with the Almighty and yet stood before God Himself marveling that God had rejected all of his works.
Nicodemus asked Jesus ‘How can this be?’ that I have to be born again. How can I start over? How can all of my keeping of Your law be for naught? Surely I only have but one more thing to do and then I can enter God’s kingdom, tell me what that is. He was confused by his ‘religion’ and would not believe, he would not receive Jesus for who He had revealed Himself to be. He felt there was more, more that he could do.
What is that we hang on to today, that keeps us from believing, from receiving Jesus? Is it our church attendance or our commitment to a personal ministry? Do we feel that our head knowledge or belief in Jesus as a Savior who died on the cross and raised in three days from the dead is what will secure our eternity with Him forever. Jesus very clearly said to Nicodemus that there had to be a supernatural ‘new birth’ of a person for Him to enter the Kingdom of God. That this was an act of the Spirit of God and not of our own doing. Salvation was conceived, authored, and secured from Heaven. Our salvation is all to the glory of God because it is only He that saves. It is for our good but it is all to God’s glory.
Read the story of Nicodemus and Jesus in John 3. There is a tension found here between the new birth being solely of the Spirit of God and the necessity of our believing or receiving Jesus. The tension is for God to reconcile. It is for us to believe the truth of the Scripture, to receive Jesus for all He has revealed Himself to be and then to give God glory for His work in saving us. Submit yourself to the truth of this word and ask God to reveal himself to you and give you the grace to believe. Marvel not that I say you must be born again!