When in college, I lost my wallet, which contained my driver’s license, birth certificate, and my Social Security card. I discovered that it is difficult to replace any one of those items without the others. It seemed odd to me to have to prove that I was born. Wasn’t the fact that I was currently alive proof enough? Of course, the issue was more about identity than about the fact of my birth.
In today’s reading, Jesus famously informed a respected religious leader named Nicodemus that if he wanted to “see the kingdom of God,” he must “be born again” (v. 3). Jesus used this startling metaphor to drive home the point that Nicodemus had to be transformed by God’s Spirit through faith in Him. Nicodemus was a member of the Jewish ruling council (v. 1). Surely, if Nicodemus had to be born again, so did everyone else!
A more complete explanation comes in verses 16–17. God so loved the world that He sent His beloved Son as a sacrifice, so that whoever believes in Him can have eternal life. Some people today may grumble that this is unfair. Why does God condemn some and save others? But this passage reminds us that Jesus did not come into a neutral world. He came into a lost world to make salvation possible.
John emphasizes God’s motivation in sending Jesus; He loves us (v. 16). God did this not because we were deserving, or because we had worked hard to earn it. In fact, John describes it this way, “This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins” (1 John 4:10).
>> Who are you? How do you describe yourself? As a Christian, our identity is found first and foremost in Christ alone. God’s love makes us a new person, “born again” into His family and adopted as His child.
Like Nicodemus in today’s reading, we don’t understand the mysteries of God, but like him, we come to you, Wonderful Savior, with our questions. Thank You that You’re looking for the lost sheep and give them new birth and new life.