I love what my friend Mike shared today at church today….it a was certainly a “gem” of wisdom. He was sharing during teh offering meditation his list of New Years resolutions. One was not answer his cell phone anymore while he is in the bathroom. But the last one, I believe was truly wise: “My final New Years resolution is to no longer take a sleeping pill and Ex-lax together just before bedtime!” Wouldn’t say that is truly wise? What a “gem” of wisdom!
I also love the “gems” of God’s Wisdom! I am studying “newness” right now as I contemplate and ponder a new year before us. In John 3:3-5, Jesus is talking about a new birth–being born again. He talks about being born of water and spirit. On the surface that may seem easy to understand, however….there is more to the story.
John 3:3-5 (TNIV)
3 Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born again.” 4 “How can anyone 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 without being born of water and the Spirit.
Jesus is talking here about the nature of the experience of ENTRY into the Kingdom of God–also known as the Kingdom of Heaven. He is saying that one must be “born from above” in order to enter the kingdom which is right here, right now–it’s in our midst should we choose to follow Jesus and live in that kingdom–and it extends into eternity!
NOW…HERE IS THE “GEM” of understanding that I found. Jesus further explains in verse 5: “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of WATER and the SPIRIT.” (emphasis added).
On the surface one might think that being born of water is speaking about baptism, or even the reality of water in the womb. But this is far, I believe, from the context of what Jesus is actually sharing (not that baptism isn’t important–it is).
Here is the important background and context to help mine this gem from the Scriptures: Jesus is talking to Nicodemus, a Pharisee and leading Jewish scholar. You can tell by what Jesus tells Nicodemus that he he would expect Him to understand this last statement (verse 5). You see…..Nicodemus would know the Old Testament Scriptures by heart. The clue to context, I believe, comes from:
Ezekiel 36:25-27 [TNIV, this is God speaking through the prophet Ezekiel]
25 I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. 26 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. 27 And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.
As we choose to follow Jesus…..not just believe….and as we apply His wisdom to our lives (“follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws”), God promises to cleanse us from sin and even more so…..God says, “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you”.
Do you want a new beginning this year? Maybe this is a new decision for you…or maybe you just need to re-commission and refocus your life. As we choose to follow Jesus and as we enter into that Kingdom…God promises, “I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities” and most of all, God promises, “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you”.
As Bono from U2 so aptly sang in the song “40”, “I will sing, sing a new song”. This comes from Psalms 40. May God bless the reading of His word and the application of His Word in our lives. 2013–a new beginning and a new song in your life!