“Jesus answered, ‘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
John chapter 3 begins with the ruler of the Jews, Nicodemus, approaching Jesus as he sought answers to important questions that he and other Pharisees had. Nicodemus began the conversation acknowledging that Jesus was from God, as no one could accomplish the miracles that he had done unless he was from God. As the conversation continues, Jesus informs Nicodemus in the verse above that no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit.
Nicodemus was puzzled by Jesus’ instructions and sought further clarification about the difference between physical and spiritual birth. Nicodemus confusion centered on the physically impossible act of a human re-entering his mother’s womb to be born again, and his lack of understanding of a spiritual birth. Jesus patiently took the time to further elaborate on the spiritual birth into God’s family.
This passage of Scripture can be quite confusing to new Christians just as Jesus’ teaching were confusing to Nicodemus. How is one born of water and spirit? Simply put, Jesus is teaching Nicodemus about a baptism of repentance allowing a believer to be born again of water and spirit. For many centuries, Israel had been called to repentance. Throughout the Old Testament, we see many examples of sacrifices to atone for sin and God’s instructions for repentance.
Jesus’ time on Earth and ultimately his death and resurrection put an end to the need for sacrifices. Instead, God calls Christians to have a true repentant heart, a desire to follow Jesus, and a desire to be forgiven of sin. A believer then can show the evidence of his or her inner heart repentance in the physical act of baptism by water, in which we join Jesus in his death, burial and resurrection and accept the sacrifice that he made for us.
Thank you for Jesus’ sacrifice to atone for my sins. God I pray that I never take his sacrifice for granted. Each and every day let my heart be repentant for the ways I fail you, and Lord give me a desire to follow you more closely. Thank you for the conviction of the Holy Spirit and for the gift of baptism that helps me be born again. Please never let me take this gift for granted.
In Jesus’ Name,