Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. 2 This man came to Jesus by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him.” 3 Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” 4 Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother's womb and be born?”5 Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ 8 The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” John 3:1-8 (ESV)
We don’t know a lot about Nicodemus because there isn’t much written about him. We do know he was a
respected member of the Sanhedrin and he comes to Jesus at night to dialog with Him.
Some believe he comes to Jesus at night because as a respected Jewish leader he didn’t want others to
know he was going to Him to learn or maybe even associate with Jesus. It was still early in Jesus’
ministry, so He hadn’t made enough enemies among the Jewish leaders. Others believe he may have
come to Jesus at night because Rabbi’s and teachers often studied in the evenings. Some have suggested
the night was symbolic of his spiritual state. They say he may have come to Jesus at night because he was
living in spiritual darkness and wanted to inquire of the light Jesus.
Before Nicodemus can even ask a question, Jesus says, “Unless a person is born again he cannot see the
Kingdom of God.” We can only wonder why Jesus started the conversation this way. There are two
phrases we need to look at to get a grasp on what Jesus is saying…
The Kingdom of God:
This phrase only exists in the New Testament but the Old Testament points to the idea, reality and the
coming Kingdom of God. In the OT the implication of the Kingdom of God was a future day when God
is the sovereign ruler of all nations and over all of creation. The prophets longed for this day, they
anticipated the day when God would physically bring peace to the nations of Israel and Judah and justice,
peace and mercy would spill over to all nations and over all of creation.
The only way one can see or enter the Kingdom is to be born again. This term is just as confusing today
as it was to Nicodemus back then. The question “How can one be born a second time? One certainly
cannot enter the womb (as a grown adult) and be reborn!” is a question we all could ask. Nicodemus
could not comprehend how a person who has lived a full life according the laws and Jewish scriptures
would not go to heaven. He couldn’t understand how one could unlearn and accept this new way (rebirth,
transformation of the heart) of entering the Kingdom. To him, it was nearly impossible to give up all he
was trained for and taught in a lifetime and re-learn the “new” way into the Kingdom.
Jesus informs him that being “born again” was not about keeping, enforcing and living the law; it was
about being re-born (or as the Greek states, “Born from above). Rebirth means being born of God, it
means to be transformed, receiving new hearts and people becoming a new creation.
The point of this passage is the only way one can be part of the Kingdom of God is that he/she must be
born again. One must be transformed, receiving a new heart and becoming a new creation in Christ, not
just a better version of your old self. This is the central message of Jesus Christ and it is available to all of
Jeff has been in full-time ministry for thirty years. He currently serves as Executive Director at Anchor House Ministry at SeaPort Manatee in Palmetto, FL and he is a part-time Campus Pastor at West Bradenton Southside in Bradenton, Florida.
Jeff Has authored A Lent Devotional (A Spiritual Journey to Lent) an Advent Devotional (The Advent of Jesus) and a devotional on the book of James (James: Where Faith and Life Meet). All three are available on Amazon.
He is married to Carrie and they have four children, Micaiah, Gabe, Simon, and Berea.
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