I recently had the opportunity to watch season one of “The Chosen.” It’s a multi-episode series about the life of Jesus and uses interesting backstories that brings the scriptures we all love and cherish into a more deeper understanding.
In one of the episodes, we are introduced to Nicodemus, who was keeping a close watch on this prophet called Jesus of Nazareth. Nicodemus was observing these miracles with his own eyes, and he knew in his heart that only someone who had been sent from heaven could do these things.
Eventually, he arranges a secret meeting with Jesus at night, and begins to question Him about God’s law. In chapter three, we notice the renowned and highly esteemed Nicodemus, humbly addressing Jesus as rabbi which means “scholar.” They begin to talk and Nicodemus admits that he believes Jesus is truly the promised redeemer as there is no other explanation. Christ responds by telling him, “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Nicodemus replies, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter the second time into his mothers womb, and be reborn?”
Jesus explains that a person who wants to follow God must be born twice. Once in the natural and once in the spiritual. Nicodemus was astounded and truly in awe with these words. Jesus went on to talk about how Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness and how soon the Son of man will be lifted up on the cross as the Savior. No matter how much people know or what good they do on the outside, everyone needs to be changed on the inside. This can only happen through a supernatural act of God when His Holy Spirit convicts us of wrongdoing and transforms us into a new creation. In verse 16, Jesus speaks one of the most popular promises in the Bible. “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
They end their meeting with Jesus inviting Nicodemus to follow Him. He tells him where to meet the next day and Nicodemus actually shows up, but he is hiding around the corner of a building listening intently. Jesus looks around and quietly whispers, “you were so close.” You see, Nicodemus had a loving wife, children, grandchildren, and many earthly possessions along with a reputation of being one of the most esteemed religious leaders in all the land.
Unfortunately, he chooses to not step forward and join the other disciples. Instead we see him weeping bitterly because of his pride and the lack of courage to surrender all for God. I cried when I watched this because I know he represents most all of us. How many have wanted to abandon their lives and be more dedicated, but were not willing to forsake everything and follow Jesus? God says in Ezekiel 36:26, “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you.” Being born again means that we have a new identity and a new purpose for living. We no longer live for ourselves but for Him. (Matthew 10:32-39, Matthew 19:27-30).