The concept of being born again is just as difficult for our human brain to grasp as it was when Nicodemus talked to Jesus about it in John chapter 3. Nicodemus, who was a Jewish religious leader of his time (Pharisee), knew that there was something different about Jesus. He saw the miracles that Jesus was doing and knew that no one could do such things unless God was in them (John 3:2). Unlike many Pharisees at this time, Nicodemus acknowledged Jesus’ authority and believed that He was sent by God. Nicodemus wanted to learn from Jesus, so one night he approached Jesus with some questions. It seems that Nicodemus bit off more than he could chew when he approached Jesus. Jesus’ response to Nicodemus left him confused about the concept of being born again and with even more questions than before.
I think most of us can understand why Nicodemus was confused about being born again. Did Jesus mean we had to have another physical birth? How was an old man to be born again from his mother? (John 3:4) This was a completely new concept in the faith. Up until this time believers were instructed to keep the law that was given to Moses, in doing so they were connected to God. When Jesus came into the world that all began to change, and in Jesus’ death and resurrection we are introduced to a new kind of connection with God. God sent His son down to walk with us and to guide us through all the struggles we would face. Jesus was to be fully man and fully God. He was and still is the holy connector we needed. Jesus is also the first example of being born again. He was born of the Virgin Mary, this was His physical birth, but He also was born again in the water and spirit when he was baptized in the Jordan River.
Being born again means that you are being born from above. That you have made the choice to leave behind the ways of the world and be connected to God on a spiritual level. This birth is not physical but spiritual, we lay down our lives and take on a completely new life as a child of God. When we are born again we are born into the family of God (1 John 3:1). This process is necessary in order to see the Kingdom of God (John 3:3). Jesus showed us how to be born again but He also gave us instructions in John 3:5-6, “Jesus answered, Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit.” We must be born of water and Spirit. Born of water means we must be baptized, we must have the water of God washed over us cleansing us from our original sin and lifting us to a new beginning as a follower of God. In the act of being baptized, we also receive the Holy Spirit that lives inside us and connects us to the deepest level to God. Our first birth is in the flesh and makes us human. Our second birth is in the spirit and gives us the right to be connected to God. When we look at the story of Jesus' baptism in the Jordan River we see Him being cleansed and also receiving the Holy Spirit in the image of a dove. “And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him; and behold, a voice from heaven said, ‘This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.’ ” Matthew 3:16-17
The new life we gain from being born again comes with a lot of changes. First is a heart change, Ezekiel 36:26 says, “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.” In this verse, we learn that we receive a new heart and a spirit within us. The new heart of flesh leads us to see things from a different perspective, our actions change and we begin to treat others with love instead of hate. As a child of God, the things of this world began to seem selfish and dangerous. This new perspective leads us to put distance between things that we used to be a part of or between people who we used to hang around with. We start to see others as God sees them, His family, and His beloved children.
Galatians 2:20 tells us what being born again looks like. "I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me." Although we may still live in the physical body that was given to us at birth, we are filled with a new spiritual life that connects us to God.