Here’s the original “Nick at night” who can say what he sees, but can’t see what Christ says. Maybe if Jesus was talking to a Roman soldier who had very limited knowledge of Israel’s God, or a first year scribe in divinity school, but this was a ruler of the Jews, a leader of the Sanhedrin — all of which underscores three crucial points of the new birth:
First, what it says about our human condition — dead. Birth assumes a starting point, the beginning of an existence, not a blending, merging or developing of something already there. Jesus doesn’t tell Nicodemus he needs to further his education, rehabilitate his blindness, raise his consciousness, deepen his commitment, or re-work his 12 step program. He doesn’t even tell him how to get born again. Seeing the miraculous isn’t the same as seeing the Kingdom.
Second, what it says about our “birth control” — none. “The wind blows where it wishes.” (vs. 8). We didn’t cause our physical birth, neither can we cause our spiritual one. If the free, sovereign, uncoerced Spirit of God doesn’t give life, all the religious and charitable activities of the flesh not only profits nothing, but actually hinders those it seeks to help (Ga. 4:29).
Third, what it says about God’s work — life. What is born of the Spirit is spirit, not part spirit and part flesh — and once born can’t be unborn or die (Phil. 1:6). This new creation (2 Cor. 5:17)) comes with a guaranteed inheritance (1 Pet. 1:3-4), a righteousness-practicing ability (1 Jn. 2:29), a world-overcoming strength (1 Jn. 5:4), a sin-killing violence (Rom. 8:13) a devil-destroying triumph (1 Jn. 5:18), culminating in a death-defeating victory (1 Cor. 15:54-57). Those who possess this life own all things on earth and hold title to all authority in heaven (Eph. 2:6). It can’t be taken by or shared with others, and its presence holds societies together (Matt. 5:13&ff) while its prayers shape their future(1 Tim. 2:1-2; Rev. 8:3-5).
Poor Nick — he’s in over his head. He receives the signs but can’t receive the witness (Jn. 3:11). Cadavers who claim to see shouldn’t be surprised when they trip over non-existent vital signs.
– Mark Lacour