Now there was a Pharisee, a man named Nicodemus who was a member of the Jewish ruling council. 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.”
Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.”
“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!”
Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’ 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.”
“How can this be?” Nicodemus asked (John 3:1-9).
- John seems to have very carefully worded his description of Nicodemus. On one side, he is a Pharisee (his religious party affiliation). On the other, he is a member of the ruling council (his status in society). But in the middle, the place where he meets Jesus, he is simply a man, a person with a question. It may be that is the only way any of us ever have an authentic encounter with Jesus.
- Have you ever noticed how the birth and ministry of Jesus prompt so many people to wonder “how can this be”? Jesus is not afraid of our questions.
NOTE: If you’ve never practiced a lectio divina style reading of scripture, here are the basic steps:
Read: Read through the scripture once or twice. Don’t rush. Reading out loud might help you go slower and hear in a different way. Some electronic Bibles will even read the passage for you. No matter how you read/hear, take your time and let the words sink into your thoughts.
Meditate: As you think about the scripture, something might “jump out” at you. You might notice a word or a phrase that seems to be important to you right now. If so, take a minute or two and just let that word stay in your thoughts. Turn it over in your mind a time or two. Even if nothing seems especially important, ask yourself what God might be saying to you through His word.
Pray: Whatever God is saying to you, or inviting you to do, is a subject for prayer. Ask Him to help you understand and/or obey.
Contemplate: Sometimes we think that when we say “Amen” our prayer is over. Instead, why not carry the scripture with you throughout the day? As you go through your activities today, carry the scripture with you. Let it run through your mind while you drive, work or shop. You might even want to return to the same scripture at the end of the day and see if there is a further encouragement or invitation for you there.