John 3:3 KJV
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.
Since mankind fell in sin, we are not only completely corrupted, but also dead in sin. And as there is no death in the Kingdom of God, we have to come alive first to be able to ‘see’ it. Our present state in sin is so terrible, that the only solution is the we must be born again, that we must be created anew, become a new creation.
This is not something we can do ourselves, it can only be done by God, by the power by which we were first created.
Just like a baby cannot do anything about being born, we cannot do anything about being born again. And just like the birth of a baby of the baby is a result of the intimate relationship between two people, being born again is a result of your decision to follow the Christ, and your intimate relationship with Him.
Your relationship with the Christ is a must, if you ever want to see the Kingdom of God.
Jesus answered and said unto him
Jesus’ reaction seems strange on what Nicodemus words “Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him” (John 3:2)
But Jesus’s reply clearly meant to shake off the dust of religion of man, and lay a different, better, deeper and more enduring foundation.
Nicodemus may have thought that he already had gone a long way, and maybe he even expected to be complimented with his present position.
Instead of this, he was told, that though he may think that he had accomplished something, he was missing out on the most important. Man (and that includes him) needs an entire revolution on the inner man.
This answer was either,
- A rebuke of what he saw wrong or missing in Nicodemus.
- Or a reply to what he saw designed in Nicodemus’s words. It was not enough for Nicodemus to admire Christ’s miracles, and acknowledge His mission, but he must be born again.
▪︎ He expected the kingdom of heaven, the kingdom of the Messiah, now shortly to appear.
▪︎ He is aware of the dawning of that day; and, according to the common notion of the Jews, he expects it to appear in external pomp and power.
He doubts not but this Jesus, who works these miracles, is either the Messiah or his prophet, and therefore makes his court to him, compliments him, and so hopes to secure a share to himself of the advantages of that kingdom.
But Christ tells him that he can have no benefit from his approach, or from the way he lives, unless there will be a change of the spirit, of the principles, and dispositions, equivalent to a new birth.
- Jesus’s answer could also have been a reply to what he saw designed in Nicodemus’s words.
When Nicodemus said that he saw in the Christ a teacher Who had come from God, one entrusted with an extraordinary revelation from heaven, he plainly showed an interest and a desire to know what this revelation was, and a readiness to receive it; and Christ declares it.
Verily, verily, I say unto thee
The words verily are translated from the same word as “amen” when it is at the end of a sentence. So we could also translate “I the Amen, the Amen, say it”;
So it may be read as: “I the faithful and true witness say to you.’’
Except a man be born again
The matter is settled irreversibly, that except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. No matter if you are a Pharisee, a master in Israel, or a minister in our present day churches.
The Jews thought that it was enough for them to have been of the seed of Abraham, or the stock of Israel, to make them fit subjects for the kingdom of heaven, and the happiness that should accrue to them from the days of the Messiah.
According to their believe there is a part allotted to all Israel in the world to come; that is, in the participation of the Messiah. But when it comes, is it that universal, that Israel can just claim such a part? Merely because they are Israelites; i.e. merely because they come of the stock and lineage of Israel.
Our Saviour sets himself against this error of theirs, and teacheth that it is not enough for them to be the children of Abraham, or the stock of Israel, to give them any title to or interest in the Messiah; but they must further be born from above; they must claim it by a heavenly, not an earthly birth. These words of his seem to fall in and bear the same kind of sense with those of John Baptist, “Think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our Father.”
This is not just speaking of the Jews, but of all human beings worldwide
A man, that is any one that partakes of the human nature, and consequently of its corruptions.
Be born again
Being born again means making a complete new start, begin life anew with an intimate relationship with God; Our way of thinking, feeling, and acting, with reference to spiritual things, must undergo a fundamental and permanent revolution.
Observe what it is that is required: to be born again; that is,
- First, We must live a new life.
Birth is the beginning of life; to be born again is to begin anew, as those that have till now lived to little purpose. We must not think to patch up the old building, but start again from the very beginning.
- Secondly, We must have a new nature, new principles, new affections, new aims. We must be born again (Greek: anothen, which signifies both “again”, and “from above”).
We must be born anew (Galatians 4:9) , and (ab initio) from the beginning (Luke 1:3).
By our first birth we are corrupt, received in sin and iniquity; we must therefore undergo a second birth; our souls must be fashioned and enlivened anew.
We must be born from above, so the word is used by the evangelist (John 3:31; 19:11), and I take this to be especially intended here, not excluding the other; for to be born from above supposes being born again.
This new birth is coming from heaven ( John 1:13 ), is focusing on heaven, and is heaven bound. It is to be born to a divine and heavenly life, a life of communion with God and the upper world, and, in order to this, it is to partake of a divine nature and bear the image of the heavenly.
Cannot see means that one who is not born again cannot have any part in, and does not have the possibility to receive the Kingdom of God.
See the kingdom of God
That is, First, We cannot understand the nature of it. Such is the nature of things pertaining to the kingdom of God (in which Nicodemus desired to be instructed) that the soul must be re-modelled and moulded, the natural man must become a spiritual man, before he is capable of receiving and understanding them (1 Corinthians 2:14).
Secondly, We cannot receive the comfort of it, cannot expect any benefit by Christ and his gospel, nor have any part or lot in the matter.
Regeneration is absolutely necessary to our happiness here and hereafter.
Considering what we are by nature, how corrupt and sinful, and what God is, in whom alone we can be happy, and what heaven is, to which the perfection of our happiness is reserved, it will appear, in the nature of the thing, that we must be born again, because it is impossible that we should be happy if we be not holy; (see 1 Corinthians 6:11,12)
Just think about the way we also say “see life,” “see death,” &c.).
Seeing the kingdom of God means to “go in”, or “enter”, as Jesus clarifies Himself a little further in this conversation with Nicodemus. ( John 3:5 )
The kingdom of God
The kingdom of God, whether in its beginnings here (Luke 16:16), or its consummation hereafter (Matthew 25:34, Ephesians 5:5).
The kingdom of God in this verse also points to the body of the Christ which you can find in the true church. Not in just any church building, or in any group of people who call themselves “church”, but I mean those people who really have surrendered to the Lordship of Jesus, are following Him, and learn how to become citizens of His Kingdom.
To be continued
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