My kids always look forward to their birthday every year, I’m sure your kids are or were the same way. Mine don’t all quite yet understand months and years, so we go through the order of who’s birthday is next, and then after that, and after that, until we finally get to them. As we get older, we don’t put as much emphasis on our birthday anymore, sometimes even dread one more year. But I have a different kind of birthday coming up, my “new-birthday.”
 Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.  That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.  Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’  The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”
People usually remember John 3 because of verse 16…for God so loved the world…but the part that comes before that is essential context for verse 16 and following. Jesus tells Nicodemus that you must be born again to see the kingdom of God, and the implication is that Nicodemus has not been born again. Nicodemus was a Jewish teacher, someone who believed he was one of God’s people and going to go to heaven one day. Jesus is telling him…hold on one second, you can’t see the kingdom of God unless you are first born again. Nicodemus didn’t understand at first, and so he sarcastically responded to Jesus, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” (Translation: “that’s the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard anyone say, Jesus.”) Jesus uses the first birth, the physical birth we all understand, to help us understand a different kind of birth, a Spiritual birth. But there’s a new problem Nicodemus faces now because of this analogy. No one can make themselves born again. You have to be born of the Spirit, and The Spirit goes where it wishes.
How many of you chose the day you were born? What about the year you were born? Did you choose who your parents would be? Did you choose the country you would be born into? Did you choose the skin color you would be born with? Did you choose whether or not you would be born with all your arms, or legs, or fingers or lungs? Did you choose whether or not you would be born with a disease or not? The answer to all these questions is no. You had no choice in your birth. Why were you not born in a third world country, or before Air Conditioning existed, or in a country with a dictator instead of a democracy? It’s not because Mom and Dad chose. God chose. Why would we expect our new-birth to be any different? Like the wind, the Holy Spirit goes where it wishes. Whenever the day comes around every year that God chose me to be born again, it’s a helpful reminder to praise God for what He did in my life. Nicodemus thought he believed in God, but he had never been born again. Have you been born again? “For God so loved the world that He sent His One and Only Son, whoever believes in Him will not perish but will have eternal life” (John 3:16).
For His Glory,
James Guy, serves as the Associate Pastor of Children and Families at Miner Baptist Church (MBC) in Sikeston