Wednesday, December 2, 2009

John 3- Being Born Again

(Nicodemus and Jesus)
Devotional using scripture, quote from John Calvin and thoughts for the day each day- on the 500th anniversary of Calvin's birth.

11/17- John 3:1-15

1 Now there was a Pharisee, a man named Nicodemus who was a member of the Jewish ruling council. 2 He came to Jesus at night and said, "Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the signs you are doing if God were not with him." 3 Jesus replied, "Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born again." 4 "How can anyone 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 without being born of water and the Spirit. 6 Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. 7 You should not be surprised at my saying, 'You 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." 9 "How can this be?" Nicodemus asked. 10 "You are Israel's teacher," said Jesus, "and do you not understand these things? 11 Very truly I tell you, we speak of what we know, and we testify to what we have seen, but still you people do not accept our testimony. 12 I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things? 13 No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven—the Son of Man. [e] 14 Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up,15 that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him."
Calvin abridged: Nicodemus illustrates how vain and fleeting was the faith of those who quickly professed their faith because of their excitement over miracles. Since this man was a Pharisee and a ruler in his nation, he must have been a cut above the others as a wise and prudent man. If this attitude was with the ruler, what should we think of the multitudes? The sum of Christ’s teaching is that in order that we may be his true disciples, we must become new people. Nicodemus was prevented from freely and cheerfully coming to Christ because he was entangled by dangerous snares. 2- “He came to Jesus at night”- This shows he was that his timidity was excessive for his eyes were dazzled by the splendor of his own greatness and reputation. Yet there was as seed of piety in him, and a religious principle that excited him to gain a more intimate knowledge of Christ. After the death of Christ, that seed yielded fruit (Jn. 19:39). “No one could perform the signs you are doing if God is not with him”- Christ has been sent by God because God displays his power in him so illustriously (cf. 2 Cor. 2:12). Yet false prophets deceive others by signs (Dt. 13:3; Mt. 24:14l 2 Thess. 2:9). However, this does not hinder the elect from perceiving in miracles the power of God which is a confirmation of the true doctrine. “see the kingdom of God” – means the same as to enter the kingdom of God. We are born exiles and alienated from this kingdom, and there is a variance between God and us.
“Born again”- expresses that there is nothing in us that is not sinful for the reformation of the whole nature is necessary. 4 “How can a man be born when he is old?” This shows us how far the teachers of his day had fallen away from the teaching of the need for full renewal. 5” born or water and the spirit”- Some have understood water to indicate the renunciation of the old person, while spirit has been understood as talking about the new life. Others have contrasted water and spirit with the earthly gross nature or elements of man. Thus we are taught to lay aside the flesh. While Christ speaks of baptism- it is the inner part of the sign that he is speaking of. If we neglect baptism we exclude ourselves from salvation; but the hope of salvation is not confined to the sign of baptism. Water and spirit indicates Christ wasn’t talking about the transmigration of a soul into a new body (as Pythagoras). But that they are born when they are renewed in mind and heart by the grace of the Spirit.
Thoughts: Birth is such a significant, life changing, world changing, comfort changing event. We go from a sheltered life into a freer but unsheltered life. We change from life in a dark womb, to seeing a world of wonders with new, open eyes. We change from a comfortable, secure life to breathing on our own. So Jesus is talking about a radical change, a “new creation” (II Cor. 5:17). In our day in which we emphasize slow growth and progress, we should make note that the Spirit is able to change us radically, and has changed many people radically over the centuries. There is a difference between sanctification after we have entered the citizenship of the kingdom and justification which is the amazingly- born-again experience of becoming a citizen. The other part is that at the same time we radically change to become citizens, we also are adopted under the care of the king. We become citizens but also members of His flock, and His adopted children.

Prayer: Lord, thank you for your Spirit which draws us and enables us to change. Thank you for the water that washes us and cleanses away the umbilical cord of our sin.

No comments:

Post a Comment