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If you're a Christian... or know a Christian... or seen a television show with Christians... you've heard the phrase "born again". The term "born again" is a cliche at this point and that's sad, because it describes the absolutely beautiful and miraculous process of God renewing our entire being—mind, heart, soul, and sometimes physical bodies. We are given a fresh start, as though we were actually born again as a new person.
It may seem easy to understand this phrase now, but it wasn't so easy for the original audience. Enter Nicodemus, a Pharisee who snuck off from the crowd to see Jesus at night and meet the man behind the miracles. came to Jesus at night, sneaking off to see the man behind the miracles.
Nicodemus was a powerful Jewish leader and a member of the Sanhedrin, the Jewish ruling council. No one would have expected a man like Nicodemus to hang out with Jesus, much less ask Him about heavenly things as though he were a student and Jesus was the teacher.
But that's exactly what happened.
Nicodemus even speaks to Jesus reverently, introducing himself by saying:
"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."
What follows is one of the most important things Jesus ever said:
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."
— John 3:3-5
Being born again is having a change or transformation of the soul and heart by the work of the Holy Spirit. This spiritual makeover when we become a born again Christian is a change in the way we think, the way we manage our emotions, and choices we make by our will.
This wisdom from Jesus changed Nicodemus—he would later would publicly defend Jesus when the Pharisees questioned whether or not to seize Jesus (John 7:45-52). And even after Jesus’ death, Nicodemus was seen, along with Joseph of Arimathea, bringing myrrh and spices to the tomb of Jesus after he had been crucified (John 19:38-42).
So, the next time you hear the phrase "born again" don't cringe because of how often you hear it. Let it sit in your heart and resonate in your mind.
And be changed... just like our good friend Nicodemus.