John 3 The Message (MSG)
Born from Above
3 1-2 There was a man of the Pharisee sect, Nicodemus, a prominent leader among the Jews. Late one night he visited Jesus and said, “Rabbi, we all know you’re a teacher straight from God. No one could do all the God-pointing, God-revealing acts you do if God weren’t in on it.”
3 Jesus said, “You’re absolutely right. Take it from me: Unless a person is born from above, it’s not possible to see what I’m pointing to—to God’s kingdom.”
4 “How can anyone,” said Nicodemus, “be born who has already been born and grown up? You can’t re-enter your mother’s womb and be born again. What are you saying with this ‘born-from-above’ talk?”
5-6 Jesus said, “You’re not listening. Let me say it again. Unless a person submits to this original creation—the ‘wind-hovering-over-the-water’ creation, the invisible moving the visible, a baptism into a new life—it’s not possible to enter God’s kingdom. When you look at a baby, it’s just that: a body you can look at and touch. But the person who takes shape within is formed by something you can’t see and touch—the Spirit—and becomes a living spirit.
7-8 “So don’t be so surprised when I tell you that you have to be ‘born from above’—out of this world, so to speak. You know well enough how the wind blows this way and that. You hear it rustling through the trees, but you have no idea where it comes from or where it’s headed next. That’s the way it is with everyone ‘born from above’ by the wind of God, the Spirit of God.”
1) What's your favorite metaphor to explain the kingdom of God?
2) What kinds of art can you use in evangelism?
3) What is a story you can tell that will invoke curiosity and inspire faith?
Jesus used many metaphors when he was speaking with Nicodemus. He talked about birth, water and wind. All of these are full of meaning. Jesus tells us what is required to enter the kingdom of God. You must be born again and you must be born of water and Spirit. After your physical birth from your mother, you are born a second time by the Spirit of God.
But there is a difference between these two births. The first is visible. It's physical. But the second is only audible. It's invisible. The first birth is believed by the natural senses, but the second birth must be received and believed by faith. There is only proof in the effects it has on your life afterwards.
To put it simply, birth is about becoming a Christian. Water is about the physical life and wind is about the spiritual life. These symbols can speak in broader ways than simple facts can. Jesus often used metaphors to teach and it was like a secret code wrapped up in everyday examples. He discipled people in ways that would last because he wanted them to be faithful to the end.