John 3:1-8: ‘Blowin’ in the Wind.
“Now there was a Pharisee, a man named Nicodemus who was a member of the Jewish ruling council. 2 He came to Jesus at night and said, ‘Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the signs you are doing if God were not with him.’3 Jesus replied, ‘Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.’4 ‘How can someone be born when they are old?’ Nicodemus asked. ‘Surely they cannot enter a second time into their mother’s womb to be born!’5 Jesus answered, ‘Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. 6 Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit.7 You should not be surprised at my saying, “You must be born again.” 8 The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.’NIV
Nicodemus was a ‘seeker’. It would appear that he was not the only one among the group of ‘Pharisees’. They were exceptionally devout men, and there were certainly those who recognised that there was something special about Jesus (2). They were not yet converts. Clearly, they were still in spiritual ignorance (10) and should have known better. But there were promising indications of eyes starting to open; the first glimmerings of a spiritual dawn.
Nicodemus may have come to Jesus ‘at night’ because he was embarrassed to be seen with him during the day. He was, after all, a man of great status, and we know how pride can affect us all. But maybe at this stage, he just wanted a private, unhurried and uninterrupted conversation with Jesus. Whatever, although the man was religious – a ‘man of the cloth’ you might say – Jesus wasted no time in letting him know that religiosity was not enough. In one statement Jesus swept away much of what Nicodemus stood for (3) and demanded that he should be remade on the inside by the power of God. Jesus said it is not possible to ‘see’ the kingdom of God (3), let alone ‘enter’ it (5) without a second and spiritual birth. (There is in the Greek language the idea of being ‘born from above’ as well as being ‘born again’. Just as a person is born physically, so there must be another, a second birth, which is the work of the Holy Spirit.) This should not have come as a surprise to Nicodemus (7). He was well versed in the Old Testament, and there are intimations there of the need for, and possibility of regeneration (e.g. Ezekiel 36:24-27).
There is a mystery about the work of the Holy Spirit, and about those in whom He is at work (8). Spirit-led people will often leave worldly people scratching their heads. (Sometimes they will even baffle fellow-believers!!). The Spirit of God is like the wind. (It’s interesting that in the original language, the same word is used for ‘breath’, ‘wind’ and ‘spirit’).We can’t see Him, but we can see what He does. And we certainly can’t control Him. One of the problems we can have in church life is when ‘the Wind changes direction’ and we don’t realise it. May we remain sensitive to God’s mighty Spirit, and seek to always keep in step with Him.
Prayer: Thank you Lord that you recreate – that you make brand new people by your Holy Spirit. Thank you for your work in me. I pray that I will never resist your Holy Spirit, but move wherever He ‘blows’ me.