You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.
His name was Nicodemus. He was a Pharisee. He was a member of the Sanhedrin, Israel’s Supreme Court. He was curious about this Jesus of Nazareth and impressed with his miracles. But he was not a follower of Jesus.
He first approached Jesus at night to hide his interest. The day would come, however, when he would step forward in public. While the famous disciples were cowering in fear, Nicodemus, along with another non-disciple, would claim the body of Jesus for burial.
When Jesus told him that no one can be in the kingdom of God unless they are born again, Nicodemus responded with the question, “How can this be?”
It was a good question. It has been asked in reference to God many, many times.
No doubt we have asked it, too.
“How can there be only one God but three persons?” How can the water of Baptism wash away sins, or the bread and wine of Communion offer the body and blood of Christ?” “How can absolutely everything work out for the good of God’s people?”
It’s not that we are doubting this. We will not call our Savior God a liar.
But we do wonder, “How can this be?”
Satan knows this. Satan wonders if the door to doubt and unbelief has cracked open a bit.
Maybe he can slip through that crack to fling the door wide open from the inside.
That’s the way he succeeded in Eden. It was a simple question: “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?”
The implied question was, “How can this be?”
The implied answer was, “This cannot be!”
However, the actual answer was, “This must be since it is God who said it.”
There need be no further explanation. The holy Creator God simply stated the truth.
Jesus used the same approach when Nicodemus asked, “How can this be?” He did not try to explain how Baptism works saving faith. He did not go into detail about the workings of the Holy Spirit.
He told this learned man, “You cannot understand it. That should not surprise you for there is much you do not understand.”
Jesus pointed to the wind. “The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going.”
We can see what direction the wind is blowing, but we do not know the source of the wind nor its destination. That knowledge is beyond us.
Surprisingly, Jesus goes on to say, “So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”
He’s talking about believers. He is talking about us.
We are living examples of the mysterious and miraculous working of the living God.
Some of us experienced that rebirth when we were baptized as an infant. Others were brought into the kingdom of God later in life. God the Holy Spirit brought this about.
How can this be? With him, all things are possible.
The Holy Spirit does this by means of Baptism and the Word of God.
We can now call the Lord of all “Our Father.” He hears us. He blesses us. He has adopted us as his own.
We have a new life.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, your Son, Jesus, paid the price of our membership in your kingdom. Show us the wonder of this. Keep a good grip on us lest we wander away. May the Holy Spirit restore unto us the joy of our salvation. Amen.
Points to ponder:
- Why do we feel we must understand God’s ways before we will believe him?
- How can we be certain we have been born into his kingdom?
- What comfort is ours by knowing the holy God has made us his own?
Written by Rev. Paul Ziemer, WELS National Civilian Chaplain and Liaison to the Military, Belle Plaine, Minnesota.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. Note: Scripture reading footnotes are clickable only in the web version.