Born Again

Jon Opgenorth

Read: John 3:4-8

How can a man be born when he is old? (v. 4)

What did Jesus mean when he told Nicodemus, “You must be born again”? I see an altar call at an evangelistic rally. Nicodemus saw a grown man entering again into his mother’s womb to be, well, born again. Taken literally this is, of course, what Jesus implies by that question. Physical birth in ancient Israel provides Jesus’ spiritual model for entrance into the kingdom of God (v. 5). What was that like? Very different from the sterile birthing suites of today!

In biblical times, shortly after birth the baby was placed on the knees of the father. The umbilical cord was cut, and the baby washed with water, rubbed with salt, and wrapped in clothes. Often the child was named at birth. The importance of that moment defined the relationship between child and parents. In short, the child’s destiny was defined by the identity received at birth. Consider how the name Jesus given by the angel before our Lord’s birth defined his destiny as our Savior (Matt. 1:21).

To enter the kingdom of God, we must be born of the Father whose kingdom it is. Our spiritual birth defines our identity. In a world where people struggle with figuring out who they are, followers of Jesus are given true identities that transcend all others. If we believe in Jesus’ name, God causes us to be “born . . . of God” (John 1:13). Born of water and the Spirit. Born again. Have you received Jesus and believed in his name? —Jon Opgenorth

Prayer: Thank you, Father, for calling me your child.