The Strange Idea of Being Born Again

Imagine being Nicodemus, the first to hear Jesus’ explanation of salvation as rebirth.

Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. – John 3:3


Because many of Nicodemus’s fellow Pharisees hated Jesus, Nicodemus had scheduled a clandestine nighttime meeting with him.

The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him. – John 3:2

And then, Jesus shared an utterly nonsensical concept. Perhaps, for a moment, Nicodemus regretted the meeting.

How could one be born again? And if it were possible, how could rebirth result in an afterlife in heaven? The concept seemed not only backward, but impossible.

Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born? – John 3:4

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Image by PublicDomainPictures from Pixabay

After that meeting, I imagine that Nicodemus pondered what Jesus said for the rest of the night! We don’t know exactly when he came to believe Jesus’ words, but we do know that he did.

And there came also Nicodemus, which at the first came to Jesus by night, and brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about an hundred pound weight. Then took they the body of Jesus, and wound it in linen clothes with the spices, as the manner of the Jews is to bury. – John 19:39, 40

He must have considered what it meant to be physically born. We enter this world helpless and dependent, yet bursting with life. Our lives stretch before us, filled with opportunities to grow and learn and transform into the best person we can be. Every experience is fresh, every accomplishment a cause for wonder and celebration.

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Image by RitaE from Pixabay

And that’s what becoming a child of God is like. Those born again through Christ have a brand-new life, throughout which they will be lovingly dependent upon their new Father.

Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. – 2 Corinthians 5:17

Being born again requires a simple, straightforward faith in the miraculous. For a learned Pharisee such as Nicodemus, this idea opposed all the laws and rules he knew.

But he had to set aside that mindset, and simply believe that what Jesus had said was possible.

Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child shall in no wise enter therein. – Luke 18:17


Have you ever considered how strange the idea of rebirth must have sounded to Nicodemus? Have you ever explained being “born again” to someone who had never heard the idea before? I welcome your comments!

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11 thoughts on “The Strange Idea of Being Born Again”

  1. I once had an instructor who urged us not to throw a blanket condemnation on the Jews of Jesus’ time (on earth), as they were hearing things that were going to take a while to digest. like the need to be born again. Nicodemus deserves credit for opening his mind and making the effort to try and get a handle on it all.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Strange indeed, Meredith. It’s familiar to us now, but was truly strange then, as were so many of Jesus’ words. I’ve always thought it interesting that Jesus spoke to Nicodemus, one of Israel’s learned men, as though he were a child. The subtext is almost, “Oh, human, you have no clue.”

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Sometimes, I chuckle aloud at the confused reactions to things Jesus says in the gospels. Your post reminds me of a church member telling us about some confused questions from her coworkers around Easter time regarding the statement “He is risen” — “Did He rise once, or does He rise again every year?” We forget that much of the world does not speak “Christianese.” That’s why I follow this rule when teaching in any context at church–don’t assume people know or remember things about a Bible story, Jesus, etc!

    Liked by 3 people

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