John 3:1–17 (NRSV)
Chapter 3Now there was a Pharisee named Nicodemus, a leader of the Jews. Verse 2He came to Jesus by night and said to him, "Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God; for no one can do these signs that you do apart from the presence of God." Verse 3Jesus answered him, "Very truly, I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above." Verse 4Nicodemus said to him, "How can anyone be born after having grown old? Can one enter a second time into the mother's womb and be born?" Verse 5Jesus answered, "Very truly, I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit. Verse 6What is born of the flesh is flesh, and what is born of the Spirit is spirit. Verse 7Do not be astonished that I said to you, 'You must be born from above.' Verse 8The wind blows where it chooses, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit." Verse 9Nicodemus said to him, "How can these things be?" Verse 10Jesus answered him, "Are you a teacher of Israel, and yet you do not understand these things? Verse 11"Very truly, I tell you, we speak of what we know and testify to what we have seen; yet you do not receive our testimony. Verse 12If I have told you about earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you about heavenly things? Verse 13No one has ascended into heaven except the one who descended from heaven, the Son of Man. Verse 14And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, Verse 15that whoever believes in him may have eternal life. Verse 16"For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life. Verse 17"Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.
Yesterday, the meditation was on the topic of footsteps on the journey of faith. Today, the topic is how that faith journey begins. John’s Gospel is about transformation and our identity in Christ through the call to faith. Nicodemus asks about how one can enter the kingdom of God. Jesus’ response about being born again seems to stump him with contradictions.
But Jesus makes clear that the issue of being born again has to do with a transformation grounded in water and Spirit. Such birth belongs to the cleansing activity of the Spirit and its effects on the new life of faith. Through water and by the power of the Holy Spirit, hearts are transformed. May we in this Lenten season find our hearts born anew each and every day, willing to change and grow as heirs of the kingdom of God.
God of Spirit and new birth, free us from our narrow understandings and help us to live as your born-again children with transformed hearts. Amen.