John opens the third chapter of the book that bears his name by introducing to us a man by the name of Nicodemus. Not only was he a Pharisee, he was a ruler of the Jews. John says, this man came to Jesus by night (maybe out of fear) and said to Jesus, 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.
I often wondered where are the “we” that this man Nicodemus spoke of. Jesus made it very clear to Nicodemus, “unless a man is born again (from above) he cannot see the Kingdom of God.”
Nicodemus’ response was, “How can a man be born when he is old. Give Nicodemus a li’l credit here. He realized that a birth was involved. He wanted to know how can he enter a second time in his mother’s womb and be born?
Nicodemus wake up and shut up and let the master teacher explain to you. Nicodemus was a senior citizen and had already met the Pharisee requirements to be “born again.” There were six ways that a person could be “born again” in pharisaic Judaism. Nicodemus was already qualified in four of those ways, and the other two would have been impossible for him to fulfill (A gentile was said to be “born again.” If he converted to Judaism or was crowned as king).
The four ways in which Nicodemus did meet the criteria follow. First, when a Jewish boy becomes bar mitzvah at 13, he is said to be “born again.”
Since Nicodemus was well beyond the age of 13, he had already experienced his bar mitzvah and was already “born again” in that way.
A second way was by marriage. When a Jewish man is married he was said to be “born again.”
A member of the Sanhedrin must be married so he could not be “born again” again in this way since he was already a member of the Sanhedrin. Third, a Jew could be “born again” when ordained as a Rabbi. Since Jesus called Nicodemus a “teacher” (rabbi means teacher) he could not be re-ordained.
The final way to be “born again” was to become the head of a rabbinical school. In John 3:10, Jesus said to Nicodemus that he “held the office of a teacher in Israel,” which meant he was already head of a rabbinical school.
Nicodemus had gone through every process available in Judaism to being “born again.”
It was confusing to Nicodemus to think the only way he could be “born again” at his age was to re-enter his mother’s womb and start the process all over again.
This discussion gave Jesus the opportunity to explain some spiritual truths to Nicodemus that he still needed to be spiritually “born again.”
Today there are many like the man Nicodemus. So many believe that because they joined church and were baptized in water that sealed their redemption for heaven.
The Apostle Paul had a heart for his people to really know Jesus the Christ in Romans 10:1-4 he says,
“Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they may be saved. For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and seeking to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted to the righteousness of God. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.”
To everyone who reads this article, know that you must be “born again.” Jesus is the Way, The Truth, and The Life. Amen, Amen!
The Rev. Kerry Price Sr. is the pastor at Breath of Life Church at Pine Bluff.
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