Be Born Again

John 3:1-4 There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews: The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou do, except God be with him. Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. Nicodemus said unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born? 

There was a man – Nicodemus, ruler of the Jews; He was a Jewish Rabbi, member of the Sanhedrin, and one of the three richest men in Jerusalem. He came to Jesus (John 3:1); He testified for Him (John 7:50-51); and He did service for Him (John 19:39).

Nicodemus didn’t come to Jesus by night because of personal shame like the disciples in John 20:19. It was more from fear than shame (John 7:50; 19:38-39). Through centuries Christians who were not ashamed of Christ did do things for fear of persecutors and this was wisdom in most cases.

‘We know that thou art a teacher come from God’ – evidently, the rulers had come to this conclusion, but the majority were too rebellious, to be honest, and sincere.

‘God be with him’ – the secret of power (Acts 10:38) for those who belong to God.

‘Except a man be born again,’ the Greek word for born is gennethe, and again is anothen, which means to be begotten from above. It literally means there must be a transformation from God and a renewal in righteousness and true holiness to be saved (2Cor. 5:17-21; Eph. 4:22-24; Col. 1:13-14, 20; 2:12-17; 3:1-16).

‘He cannot see the kingdom of God’ the Greek word for ‘to see’ is eidon, which is not so much the mere act of looking, but the actual perception of the kingdom and its realities.

‘Be born’ Nicodemus misunderstood Jesus and thought only in human terms. Millions today make the same mistake in comparing the new birth with the old birth. This is the very thing Jesus did not want men to do (John 3:12). The truth is: one is a begetting and a coming into existence; the other is an adoption (Rom. 8:14-16; Gal. 4:5; Eph. 1:5).

Baptism

John 1:25-28  And they asked him, and said unto him, Why baptize thou then, if thou be not that Christ, nor Elias, neither that prophet? John answered them, saying, I baptize with water: but there stand one among you, whom ye know not; He it is, who coming after me is preferred before me, whose shoe’s latchet I am not worthy to unloose. These things were done in Bethabara beyond Jordan, where John was baptizing. 

Jews were accustomed to making converts by ceremonial cleansing, but never without an order from the Sanhedrin or before three magistrates or doctors of the law. They, therefore, felt jealous of John, who not only baptized without Jewish authority but baptized Jews contrary to the practice of the Pharisees.

John’s reason for baptizing was that the Messiah should be made manifest (known) to Israel (John 1:26-31).  There are seven baptisms in Scripture: John’s baptism in water to introduce Christ to Israel (Matt. 3:1-17; Mark 1:1-45; Lk. 3:1-38; 7:29-30; John 1:31-33; 3:23-26; 10:40; Acts1:5; 11:16; 19:3); Christ’s baptism in water (John 3:22; 4:1-2) which announced the beginning of His three year ministry and showed His purpose as the one without sin that will clean the world with water (washing in the Word) and by shedding His blood at His crucifixion (1Jn 5:7-8); Baptism in suffering (Lk. 12:50); Baptism in the cloud and in the sea (1Cor. 10:2) refers to Moses and the nation Israel going through the Red Sea that was a type of the washing that we have to go through for salvation as we are called out of the bondage of sin (Egypt); and the last three that is relevant and necessary for today’s Christians:  Baptism into Christ and into His body (Rom. 6:3-7; 1Cor. 12:13; Gal. 3:27; Col. 2:12) at repentance and the new birth; Christian baptism in water (Matt. 28:19; Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38-41; 8:12-16, 36-38; 9:18; 10:47-48; 16:15, 33; 18:8; 19:5; 22:16; 1Cor. 1:13-17; 1Pet. 3:21) this is for testifying of dying to one’s old nature after being reborn; Baptism in the Holy Spirit (Matt. 3:11, 14; 20:22-23; Mark 1:810:38-39; Lk. 3:16; John 1:33; 7:37-39; Acts 1:5; 11:16; 19:2-3) which is the enduement of power for service.

The Holy Spirit is the agent to baptize into Christ and into His body; Christ is the agent to baptize in the Holy Spirit, and the minister is the agent to baptize into water (Matt. 28:19).