We’re all familiar with the account of the Pharisee Nicodemus coming to Jesus at night. Jesus called him the teacher of Israel (John 3:10); as such he was an important, highly regarded man. It’s why he came at night. His intense curiosity about Jesus got the best of him, but he couldn’t risk anyone seeing him with this One who caused such angst among his peers.
Nicodemus, like all Pharisees, thought that the way into the kingdom of heaven was by his own righteousness. Through the uncompromising laws and rules that the Pharisees followed, they were sure that their lives pleased Yahweh. They had seen the results of their people turning away from the Lord for centuries into apostasy by following other gods, and they were determined not to repeat that offense. By strictly obeying the 613 Laws that God had given to Israel, they were sure this was the key to eternal life.
This is what Nicodemus believed, yet he had observed the words and actions of Jesus. He had seen the miracles. Because he was religious and knew of Israel’s history, he realized that God indeed sent His prophets, and that they often performed miraculous deeds. He acknowledged this in John 3:2:
This man came to Jesus by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him.”
In the eyes of Nicodemus, Jesus had surely been sent by God. So, why did Nicodemus come to Jesus? What did he ask?
We’re not told this specifically in the text, but he must have expressed some confusion. His fellow Pharisees were condemning Jesus, but this man who drew such large crowds had a way about Him and did things that no man without God could do. It perplexed Nicodemus, so he had to find out for himself what Jesus was all about.
Jesus must have surprised Nicodemus by his response. In John 3:3 we see that:
Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
This was an entirely new concept to Nicodemus. In all his vaunted learning as a Pharisee, he’d never come across this idea. It wasn’t something that the Torah, i.e. the Old Testament, had revealed.
He questioned Jesus more, and He said something even more perplexing in John 3:5:
Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.
This really threw Nicodemus. He had no idea what Jesus was talking about. This concept of being born again was puzzling enough, what was this about being born of both water and Spirit to enter God’s Kingdom?
We know that when the true church of Jesus Christ is Raptured, the dead in Christ will rise first, followed immediately by those who are alive. Jesus will come on the clouds, not touching the earth, and summon those who are His to snatch them from this mortal plane to be with Him forever.
What happens then? At that moment in time – in the twinkling of an eye – we are transformed. The Bible tells us we will be like Jesus. We will be given glorified bodies. Our bodies of flesh are like a seed that goes into the ground. When it germinates, it metamorphoses into something entirely different from what it had been. It produces a living green plant, whereas before it had been a little, hard brown shell. The life that comes forth is so totally different from what it had been that the before and after are seemingly unrelated.
When we are born into the flesh, we develop in our mother’s womb in amniotic fluid, i.e. water. We come forth with the bursting of that sac and water is released. Our birth into life is predicated on our having developed in this water. That process brings us into this world. As Jesus said, we are born of water.
Life in the flesh is completely different from that of the Spirit. Spiritual beings inhabit a plane of existence that we cannot see nor comprehend. We know this realm is real, but it is so far removed from our comprehension, that we can only imagine being part of it. Jesus said that when we’re born again by the Holy Spirit of God, this enables us to enter and become part of that realm.
To become part of that new existence, we must believe in Jesus; that He is God; that He came to earth and inhabited a mortal body; that He died for our sins; that He rose from the grave – transformed back into a spiritual being; and that He is coming back to bring us to the place he has prepared for us. This transformation is a most marvelous concept. Our mortal bodies will become something entirely different. We will become spirit beings, yet have characteristics that are of the flesh; but we won’t be flesh.
Jesus could apparently walk through walls or simply appear in one place or another. He could eat food, yet He didn’t need it. After His resurrection. He was, and is, an inhabitant of heaven, but He was just as comfortable walking on the earth. This is what it will be like for us, and more. It is this which Jesus spoke of to Nicodemus which neither he nor we can fully comprehend.
Contemplating this incredible future gives us hope. There is more to life than what we know in the flesh. What we will be is ultimately a mystery, but it will be marvelous. This is why we believe as Jesus so famously said in John 3:16:
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”