John 3:1–17; 7:45–52; 19:38–40; Romans 5:8
At Christmas, we celebrate the birth of Jesus—the moment God’s Son entered humanity with a mission to change the course of history and save the world. Sin had humankind under a curse of death. “You were dead because of your disobedience and your many sins” (Ephesians 2:1, emphasis added), wrote the apostle Paul. But then Jesus changed our destiny through His sin-bearing death and life-giving resurrection.
Through His triumph, Jesus won for us what we were powerless to attain: new life. Paul explained that God “gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead” (2:5, emphasis added) and “created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago” (2:10). The theological word for this heavenly re-creation is regeneration. Jesus called it being “born again” (John 3:3).
How does a person become born again? Jesus illustrated to Nicodemus the single requirement using an ancient account from Israel’s past that Nicodemus would have known well. Before we eavesdrop on the private conversation between the Savior and the Pharisee, let’s prepare ourselves to receive Jesus’ teaching.
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