Jesus said that “all the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments”:
- Love God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength.
- Love your neighbor as yourself.
(Matthew 22:37-40; Mark 12:28-34)
We’re in the midst of reviewing 77 commands straight from the mouth of Jesus that show what it reeeeeally means to love God and others. Today’s featured command comes from one of the most famous conversations in the history of the universe:
Now there was a Pharisee, a man named Nicodemus who was a member of the Jewish ruling council. He came to Jesus at night and said, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the signs you are doing if God were not with him.”
Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.”
“How can someone be born when they are old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely they cannot enter a second time into their mother’s womb to be born!”
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. You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”
“How can this be?” Nicodemus asked.
“You are Israel’s teacher,” said Jesus, “and do you not understand these things? Very truly I tell you, we speak of what we know, and we testify to what we have seen, but still you people do not accept our testimony. I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things? No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven — the Son of Man. Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.”
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.
Today’s command has two parts. The first is God’s and the second is ours.
First we have to be spiritually reborn. We can’t enter God’s kingdom under our own feeble power. We need the Holy Spirit to transform us into children of God. Jesus compares this rebirth to the wind: (1) it’s controlled by God, not us; (2) it’s invisible — you can’t see it taking place but you can see the results in a person’s changed life; and (3) it’s unpredictable — it’s impossible to know exactly what, when, where and how God is going to act.
So what’s our part? To believe. Jesus repeatedly used that one little word to express what he expects of us. But what does it mean exactly? To “believe” means more than saying “Yeah, OK, whatever, I believe in Jesus.” Over and over in the Bible, true faith is depicted as a deeeeep growing trust in response to the way God reveals Himself. Faith isn’t a blind leap: it’s an ever-deepening journey that involves our entire being: heart, mind and soul.
Do what Jesus says: Be spiritually reborn and believe.
(Image credit: Shutterstock.com / romrf)