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.”
What role did you play in your own birth? Did you give birth to yourself? Did you push yourself out of your mother’s womb? Did you contribute anything to your birth other than just being there? Your mother would be very offended if you took any credit for your own birth. She was the one who carried you in her womb and went through labor. She is the one who, humanly speaking, deserves all the credit for you being born.
Jesus told the Jewish religious teacher Nicodemus that if he wanted to see the kingdom of God, he needed to be born again. Nicodemus didn’t understand what Jesus was talking about. To him, it made no sense for someone who already was grown to climb back into his mother’s womb to be born again. Certainly, no human mother would allow that to happen, even if it were possible!
But Jesus wasn’t talking about being born physically a second time. He was talking about being born spiritually. Jesus described this second, spiritual birth as being “born of water and the Spirit.” The water he was talking about is the water of baptism. In baptism, God the Holy Spirit gave the person being baptized new birth. He brings them to spiritual life. And just as was the case with our first, physical birth, so it was with our second, spiritual birth. We can contribute nothing to it. Our second, spiritual birth through holy baptism is entirely the work of God the Holy Spirit. He (not we) brings our spiritually dead hearts to life by leading us to trust in Jesus as our Savior. He (not we) takes us who are completely separated from God and makes us God”s own children. The triune God gives us new birth—a new life to be lived with him here and in eternity.
O triune God, all praise to you for the miracle of holy baptism. Amen.