Genesis 12:1-4a; Psalm 121; Romans 4:1-5; John 3:1-17
“What springs from earth dissolves to earth again, and heaven-born things fly to their native seat.” – Marcus Aurelius
What do seekers risk? Nicodemus was a seeker for truth and life. He was a man of position and status, living a secure life. Was he willing to risk all that? He was not sure, so he comes to Jesus hidden in the shadows of night. Jesus tells him he must be “born from above.” (John 3:3) (see Greek below) Also Jesus says to him that one must be “born of water and the Spirit” (John 3:5) He is here speaking of the water of the mother’s womb (not necessarily Baptism), and the Spirit of God. Both births are necessary. Our mothers give us life. Being born from above is being born of the Spirit, another kind of life. One is as important as the other. Birth from water of our earthly mother and birth from the heavenly Spirit are both necessary. Even the pagan Marcus Aurelius knew of such things; but Nicodemus, a teacher of Israel, did not understand (John 3:10). The term “born again” is often used today. Being born again has come to characterize being theologically rigid, a fundamentalist, holding on for dear life. But being heaven-born involves living in gray paradox with a high tolerance for ambiguity, a letting go. One is stiff; the other is flexible. Only by the Spirit of God can we loosen up and fly to our true native seat. Only then can we risk getting off our other false seats. Nicodemus does eventually come around. After the death of Jesus, in broad daylight he assists Joseph of Arimathea in the burial. Now it is our turn.
In Greek the word “again” as in “born again” is exactly the same word as “from above” as in “born from above.” Nicodemus thinks Jesus is saying he needs to be born again from his mother’s womb when actually Jesus is saying he needs to be born from above. Nicodemus was trapped in a semantic confusion in this passage.
Destined to be born
in spirit above adorned,
new life on the morn.