Scripture: John 3:1-21
Observation: Jesus meets Nicodemus, a respected Jewish religious leader, who affirms that God is clearly with Jesus because of the miracles he has performed. Jesus responds that anyone who truly believes in him must be “born again,” leaving behind their old lives and entering a new life with Christ.
Application: Birth is a gritty process... and I think “gritty” is a PG way of putting it.
As someone who went through labor once, let me tell you: It is nothing like what you see on TV. On TV, it’s a few loud screams and sweaty pushes, and then a perfect baby appears from underneath a sheet that’s been covering your body. I won’t go into detail, but I can assure you: it’s long and painful, and there is most definitely no sheet covering you. If you plan to give birth, you can also go ahead and plan to get rid of your dignity right now.
And while it’s a total cliché, every long, undignified, painful push was worth it, because at the end, I became a mom to the sweetest, happiest, most loving boy on the entire planet. The pain of birth precedes the miracle of life – and it makes every moment worth it.
When Nicodemus talks with Jesus, the Son of God tells him that he must go through a process of rebirth, to turn away from his old life and receive a new one. Naturally, Nicodemus is confused.
“‘What do you mean?”, exclaimed Nicodemus. ‘How can an old man go back into his mother’s womb and be born again?’” (v. 4)
“’I assure you, no one can enter the Kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit. Humans can reproduce only human life, but the Holy Spirit gives birth to spiritual life.’” (v. 5-6)
When we make a decision to put our faith and trust fully in Jesus, we don’t receive a new wardrobe or set of attitudes – we receive a brand new life.
But just like any birth, being reborn as a follower of Jesus can be a painful process. We must turn away from everything we’ve known – the comforts of our own inadequacies, our relentless quest for affirmation from the people we love, the addictions and hang-ups that provide us with a sense of control – and instead turn towards fully trusting in Jesus alone.
Jesus warns Nicodemus: it’s not an easy process. He says:
“’God’s light came into the world, but people loved the darkness more than the light, for their actions were evil. All who do evil hate the light and refuse to go near it for fear their sins will be exposed.’”
When we hold tightly onto our fear of what we’ll have to give up, we miss out on the freedom of everything we’ll receive.
What fear is holding you up from devoting yourself fully to Jesus? What part of you hasn’t been fully reborn? He is offering us the greatest gift:
“For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him.” (v. 16-17)
When we release our fears, we receive His freedom.
Prayer: God, thank you for this new life, the gift of your Spirit living and breathing inside of me. I pray I’ll live my life with a loose grip, offering up everything that holds me back from fully trusting in you. Amen.