Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” —John 3:3–4 (ESV)
What is perhaps the most popular New Testament text in the last 100 years—John 3:16—comes from the same account of today’s text, when Nicodemus, a Pharisee, visits Jesus at night. He comes to Jesus, seemingly wanting to learn something about him. But Jesus redirects the conversation right away to salvation, to what it means to believe and be born again.
Jesus tells Nicodemus that “unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” What is less clear in English is that the Greek phrase in John’s text for ‘born again’ can also mean ‘born from above’. Does Jesus mean that a person must be ‘born again’ or ‘born from above’ to be saved? Both, actually. Jesus plays on both meanings. But Nicodemus only understands Jesus to mean an actual physical rebirth, for he asks the silly question, “Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” Jesus rather refers to a spiritual new birth that takes place when a person believes in Him. In other words, when someone believes in Jesus, they are ‘born again’, which also is a birth ‘from above’—a heavenly new birth. And the result, as John 3:16 affirms, is eternal life.
Christian believer, celebrate today that you are a new creature. You have been born again, born from above. Your old life has passed away, along with its sinful habits and the eternal punishment due to you for those sins. And as John emphasizes elsewhere, the ‘eternal life’ you have is something that starts the day you were born again. Walk today in newness of life. Consider, too, who else in your life God might want you to share this message with.