Born of the Spirit (14-04-21)
Bible Reading: John 3:1-6, 19:38-39
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.
Later, Joseph of Arimathea asked Pilate for the body of Jesus. Now Joseph was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly because he feared the Jewish leaders. With Pilate's permission, he came and took the body away. He was accompanied by Nicodemus, the man who earlier had visited Jesus at night.
Like many grandparents, lockdown has deprived us of some precious months watching our grandchildren grow and develop. Forming a childcare bubble has recently enabled us to spend ten days with two of them. At two years and four years of age respectively, the change in them over this time is very noticeable, both in their growth and in their conversation. Had we have seen them regularly over that time the changes probably wouldn’t have been so apparent.
The same is true for all of us in our spiritual life. We are often unaware of the changes and the growth that our faith makes in our lives, changes that other people are aware of and that God certainly notices.
In John’s gospel, we see such a change in Nicodemus. In chapter three this prominent Pharisee, afraid of what his peers might think of him, came to Jesus, secretly, at night. Later on, in a debate over who Jesus was, Nicodemus speaks up for Jesus and then, after Jesus’ crucifixion he comes out into the open, with Joseph of Arimathea, to ask Pilate for permission to bury Jesus’ body.
I think the clue to Nicodemus’s growing courage is the work of God’s Holy Spirit in his life. Jesus had told him that, to enter the Kingdom of God, he needed to be born both naturally and spiritually, of water and of the Spirit. This was where Nicodemus’s spiritual journey began. We see signs of growth in John’s gospel; only God knows how his journey continued after the resurrection.
However you understand the beginning of your Christian faith, whether it is being baptised, being confirmed, becoming a follower of Jesus or being born again, at that point you were born of the Spirit; God's Holy Spirit gave you new life. As you continue to walk with him, like toddlers, you will grow in stature and in conversation, both with God and with those around you. God’s Holy Spirit will do that.
Thank you Jesus that in you I have new life.
Help me to grow daily, more like you.
Who is there like you?