What does it mean to be born of the Spirit? Jesus reveals that while it is similar to being born of the flesh, it is also a different thing altogether. We are born in the flesh by flesh. Likewise, we are born of the Spirit only by the Spirit of God. And only by being born of the Spirit of God can we live eternal life in the Kingdom of God.
This teaching was news to Nicodemus, who was a Pharisee, a religious leader of the Jews. The Jews were God’s Chosen People, who believed themselves to be sole inheritors of God’s promises, His blessings, and His Messiah. Imagine how Nicodemus must have felt when Jesus told him that being born as a Jew was not enough to receive the privilege of entering into God’s Kingdom! Jesus reveals to Nicodemus the true requirement of being a part of God’s Kingdom: being born of His Spirit.
Nicodemus responds with confusion, but also openness in seeking to understand this difficult teaching from Jesus. This teaching is an encouragement to us! It reminds us that being a part of the Kingdom of God is not determined by our heritage or pedigree. It does not rely on our works or our worldly success, our achievements, or capabilities. Instead, it is contingent upon our being born of God’s Spirit. Being born of the Spirit is not something that we can do, but is something that we can ask God to do for us. It is something that we can entrust to Him, and begins with seeking Jesus just as did Nicodemus.
How do we become born of God’s Spirit? The intricacies of this process are, as Jesus describes, somewhat like the wind: “[it] blows where it pleases, and you hear its sound, but you don’t know where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.” It is difficult for us to understand completely. But what is more important for us to know is that being born of the Spirit is something that must happen to us in order for us to be a part of God’s Kingdom. It is a work that the Spirit does to those who are desiring to be made new creations by Him. It has begun with the Saving Work of Jesus through His Death and Resurrection, and continues within us by the Spirit when we receive the Work that Jesus has done for us.
There is a way to be made new in God, and to live in eternity with Him in His Kingdom. It is by being born of His Spirit!