“THE NEW BIRTH”
“The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.”- John 3:8
NICODEMUS, a ruler of the Jews, has come to Jesus by night that he might learn something of the Man. He came by night for fear of his good brethren who might expel him from the synagogue for seeking the Nazarene. Surely, many today would follow Him if they could leave their upper seats. Here, as we find in every instance, our Lord’s conversation was immediately upon spiritual matters. Nicodemus wanted to prove Jesus with questions as to who He was. Jesus, in turn, proves Nicodemus with hard questions as to who he was. Our Lord spoke of “the new birth”.
Nicodemus, like the rest of his Jewish brethren, thought that becoming a child of God was merely by birthright. If you could prove you were of the seed of Abraham you had the necessary evidence to admit you into the outer court and eventually into Abraham’s bosom. The fruits born in the life were secondary to the pedigree. Yet, Jesus tells him, “If you want to be in my kingdom, you must be born again and this is how it happens”.
There are many ideas advanced as to how a person is born again. Man, in his attempt to exalt himself, always places himself somewhere in the picture. He must always have some tradition, some performance, some free will, some special words to say, some outward shew in the flesh connected with this spiritual matter. Yet, the words of our Lord are so simple we must have a degree from college to misunderstand it. Jesus compares it to the wind!
Now, everyone knows about the wind, even the smallest child. We look out our window and there goes a leaf. The branches move according to the commands of this invisible power. How mighty is this force!! The recent hurricanes have once again proven the helplessness of man and his inability to harness the wind. Our Lord’s word, “listeth”, means exactly that, it means ‘pleases’: the wind blows where it pleases. Man can no more command God’s spirit to blow upon a person that he can command the wind to blow in his face. For man to think that he can perform an ordinance, say some words, or observe some tradition, and by thus doing, command the Spirit to come down immediately and blow upon a person is to place God at the command of puny man. Man, in his pride, has once again forgotten about the sovereignty of God. God was sovereign in creation and in His choice of His people. Every born again person is a new creation, created in Christ Jesus by the sovereign operation of the Holy Spirit. Man is passive in this Holy transformation. Is there another way that this might happen? No, our Lord sums it up this way: “So is every one that is born of the Spirit”.
Concerning the wind, Jesus also said that, though we can’t control it or see it, we can hear the sound of it. We can even see the effects of it. Those who hear the small still voice belong to the Father of lights. The Father speaks to His children. We see the effects of this spirit in the lives of many who have not yet followed in our Lord’s divine ordinances. Jesus said, “Ye shall know them by their fruits”, not by the ordinances or the qualifications. John the Baptist leapt for joy in his mother’s womb when he was overshadowed by the Holy Ghost. His regeneration was like the wind, effective, immediate, productive, instilling him with joy, a definitive fruit of the spirit.