“Jesus answered Nicodemus, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.’” -John 3:3
The torturous crucifixion of Jesus accomplished its purpose. He truly died; He did not “swoon” on the cross to later be revived in a cold tomb. Ridiculous myths like this have been the subject of books seeking to prove that Jesus’ resurrection was a lie. The Jewish leaders themselves, as recorded in Scripture, paid the Roman soldiers to spread lies of the disciples stealing Jesus’ body from the tomb – a tomb they themselves were tightly guarding, no less. Thus, no resurrection according to their lie.
Friday evening after the crucifixion, Joseph of Arimathea went to Pilate to request Jesus’ body, which was still hanging on the cross. Pilate agreed. Joseph, a disciple of Jesus, had his own tomb nearby which he determined to donate for Jesus’ burial. Nicodemus volunteered to help Joseph move the body from the cross to the tomb and provided 75 pounds of myrrh and aloes to dress the body of Jesus for His interment in the rock tomb.
Nicodemus was a member of the Pharisees but had become a Christian, very likely at the time he came to Jesus by night to talk about salvation and eternal life (John 3). This conversation thoroughly covers how and why to become a Christian and includes the most loved verse in the Bible – John 3:16.
Nicodemus had come to understand what it means to be “born again.” We first know what “born again” means because of this encounter Jesus had with Nicodemus. This is a conversation which has traveled throughout the world in every age to the present day. It is why we still confess that believers in Jesus, those who genuinely trust in Him for their salvation, have been born again.
Two of these born again men care for the dead body of Jesus on this post-crucifixion Friday night. One more night, Saturday, and on the third day of Sunday morning this same Jesus walked out of His tomb. Death had met its defeat.
Jesus is called the “first fruits” of your resurrection. He burst the bonds that would have held you and me in the grave forever. He opened the locked door to eternal life through this miracle of physical, bodily resurrection. The whole person and body of Jesus emerged from that tomb! This was no mere spiritualized event; Jesus truly rose, body and spirit, from evidential death!
It is our supreme desire that all the young men who darken the door of the Youth Home will come to be born again, sooner rather than later. This event in their life, however, is entirely in God’s hands. The Spirit of God must unite them to the Savior, though PAYH staff lead them right to His door.
This Spirit is the wind of which Jesus speaks in His conversation with Nicodemus in John 3. The Spirit blows where He wills. You do not see His coming or see where He goes after, just like the wind. It is this Spirit of God who enacts your rebirth from death to life.
The young men at PAYH may pray the “sinner’s prayer,” inviting Jesus into their hearts, but observation of them thereafter proves whether the prayer was a sincere desire to trust in Jesus as personal Savior and Lord or if this was just going through some ritual motions.
If you do not sense or know a dramatic change in your life then or in a little while, you do not just walk away and forget it; you pursue the Lord until your rebirth becomes a reality. This is not a game. It is the most critical thing you will ever do. If you do not hunger for it, if you do not pursue it with everything in you, nothing happens.
Becoming born again necessitates the work of the Holy Spirit, and it requires faith, which is itself a gift. That faith confesses, “I must have Him, or I will die.” Faith is not passive; sincere faith is aggressive. Faith fiercely grabs hold of salvation and never gives up.
There is no more important historical event in the universe than Jesus’ resurrection. Everything depends on it! Especially your rebirth into eternal life. This Sunday is the celebration of new life – your new life because Jesus lives! Else, nothing matters anymore.
“Long my imprisoned spirit lay fast bound in sin and nature’s night. Thine eye diffused a quickening ray; I woke, the dungeon flamed with light. My chains fell off, my heart was free. I rose, went forth, and followed Thee. Amazing love! How can it be that Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?”
(Fourth verse of Charles Wesley’s hymn, “And Can It Be That I Should Gain,” 1738)
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