Birth is a painful process.
For the mother.
The baby gets squeezed, forced into the bright light and harsh realities of a new world. But, the pain belongs to mom. Mom does the work. I admit I had it relatively easy. From the time my water broke to my son’s birth was about five hours. I pushed hard for about an hour. Did it hurt? Yes. Was it worth it? Oh, most definitely, yes!
In John chapter 3, Jesus was speaking to Nicodemus. Nicodemus was a very religious man. He was a Pharisee, a “ruler of the Jews.” He did lots of religious stuff. Everyone viewed him as a religious guy. He recognized that Jesus was from God. But, he was confused with Jesus’ statements.
Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. (John 3:3-5)
The only way to enter the kingdom of God is to be born a second time. This isn’t a simple metaphor. If you’ve always thought of it as a word picture, it’s not. It’s a spiritual reality. As a mother suffers the pain in a physical birth, Christ suffered so that we might be born a second time, a birth of the Spirit. We’ll consider more aspects of this later, but today, understand that while becoming a Christian is in some ways a choice on your part, God does the work. Simply reciting a prayer does not accomplish your salvation. God does that, he births you into a new creation.
because you have been born again—not of perishable seed but of imperishable—through the living and enduring word of God. (1 Peter 1:23)
My eleven-year-old nephew died unexpectedly a few months ago. This month, my ex-husband was in the hospital for a few weeks with, essentially, kidney failure. Medication has restored his kidney function, but there were some very touch-and-go days while he was there. Physical birth inevitably leads to physical death. The “seed of man” is perishable. It’s a reality of this human existence that you and I will both die.
But, the second birth, the spiritual birth is by imperishable seed. Jesus Christ existed before time and will always exist. He accomplishes your spiritual birth. There is no end to this new creation like there is with physical birth.
Your spiritual birth is a reality, not a word picture and God accomplished it for you. We’ll think through the results of this new birth in the coming months. Understanding though, that your birth and the results of this birth are truth and a spiritual reality are an important place to start.
- Why would it be important to understand your spiritual birth as a true event, a spiritual reality rather than a metaphor?
- Have you experienced the second birth Christ speaks of?
Help me absorb this understanding. It’s hard sometimes, for me to understand spiritual reality as real…because it’s unseen. But, I know it is more real, more true, more lasting, more important than my eyes that are reading this prayer. Help me live my life, go through today, respond to my surroundings, but especially respond to You, with the recognition of that fact.
Thank you for doing the work of my spiritual birth. Thank you for voluntarily suffering so that my second birth could be accomplished. Thank you for loving me.
I love You. Amen.
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