Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Jesus and Nicodemus: Second of Four Illustrations

In order to help Nicodemus understand the concept of being born of water (God's word) and the Spirit (of God), Jesus gave His second illustration, concerning the Spirit,

2) Wind:
"God’s Spirit blows wherever it wishes. You hear its sound, but you don’t know where it comes from or where it is going.” (John 3:8, first half)
The word “wind” in both Hebrew and Greek is the same word for “spirit.” As Nicodemus felt the wind brush against him, and saw the leaves fluttering in the trees Jesus explained that like the wind the Holy Spirit is invisible but powerful, and you can’t predict, explain or control the movements of the wind.
"It’s the same with everyone who is born of the Spirit." (John 3:8, second half)
Regeneration is partly a mystery, it’s all internal, you can’t fully explain it, and there are no physical steps you can take to make it happen, God does it, but you and I can see the evidence of it.
Nicodemus could hardly take it all in. “How could this be?”

But Jesus wouldn’t let him off the hook. If Nicodemus was the teacher of Israel, then he had all he needed in the scriptures themselves to know what Jesus was talking about. He should know that
Isaiah spoke of new life from God;
Jeremiah had predicted a new creation that would be given;
Ezekiel had said God would take out the old heart of stone and replace it with a new heart and His own Spirit.

How often do you and I study the Bible with a preconceived idea of what the answer is, rather than really reading what it says? What have you been trying to understand using your own intellect, without God’s guidance and the help of His Spirit?
To enter the kingdom of God, you must be born again
What spiritual issues have you been trying to solve with earthly solutions? In our natural state people can’t understand spiritual truth, or comprehend the kingdom of God. So often you and I get hung up on behavior before we start talking about the gospel. You have to be born again to even understand how behavior relates to the inner person.

The Pharisees spent all of their energy on the externals. Good behavior was the important thing to them, not what was going on in their hearts. It made me think about my own parenting.

Think how discouraging that is to require good behavior from someone who isn’t good – how often have you and I done that to ourselves, to our children, to others in our lives, setting an impossible standard of good behavior without addressing the need for a changed heart, filled with the goodness of God?

Good behavior doesn’t make you or me a good person. Only being born again can accomplish that by receiving God’s goodness within, in new life.

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