For what we have in this wonderful story is a dialogue between two teachers who speak past each other about what such words could possibly mean: one, Nicodemus, speaks on a biological level; the other, Jesus, on a theological level.
Nicodemus, of course, is a scholar and a Pharisee, a teacher of the law. Jesus is a Rabbi and preacher. Jesus, however, tells Nicodemus, in so many words, that he will never see God’s kingdom unless he is born again (John 3:3). Nicodemus does not understand. Nicodemus is thinking birth cannel and water breaking; he is thinking about being born biologically, with birth being one of the most stressful experiences any one of us has in our lives. We may be cozy in the womb for nine months, but getting out ain’t easy! It is small wonder that most of us come out screaming our heads off and wanting our money back.
Perhaps this is why Nicodemus is gut-struck: his mind is captured by images of confined space, pain, darkness, uncertainty. That’s what Nicodemus sees as he hears Jesus say that we’ve got to do it all over again. And so, if you are Nicodemus, you might be thinking: “If that is the good news, then what is the bad news?”
Nicodemus, however, is not a person in touch with his feelings. His thinking about physics: “How does this work? Grownups are too big to fit back in.”
And Jesus is saying, “No, no, no. That’s not what we are talking about. This is about wholesale new creation and transformation – mind, body, spirit. This is going to make the first-birth look like a picnic.”
How may we understand the mystery and wonder of the new birth, of the Spirit blowing where it wills? How may we, like Nicodemus, step out of the dark into God’s marverlous light?
Pastor Andy Kinsey