Jesus answered, Truly, truly, I say to you, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.
I. OBSERVE THE TRUE TEACHER. This verse is in answer to a question. The first word of Jesus to Nicodemus is a word that brings a question. The true teacher seeks to provoke activity of mind and curiosity in the learner. The question is certainly a most absurd one, but Nicodemus had no time to prepare a sensible one. It is easy for us to be wise over the introductory declaration of Jesus, because we look at it with plenty of illustrations and explanations shining upon it. But Nicodemus, in all his previous thinking, had nothing to make him expect Jesus would thus speak; and so it is little wonder to find him staggered, confused, utterly bewildered, to hear Jesus speaking thus calmly of such a wondrous experience. The question, however absurd, leads on to a piece of most practical information.
II. THE FURTHER EXPLANATION OF JESUS. We are not likely to suppose that being born again means to live natural life over again. Few would care for that, travelling over the old road, meeting the old difficulties, fighting the old battles. Jesus explains that to be born again is to be born of water and of the Spirit. Being born of water means, of course, passing through the experience of repentance. The true disciple of John the Baptist was born of water. He repented, changed from his old view of life, manifested that changed view by changed habits and practices, and, for sign of all this, was baptized with water. Nicodemus evidently had this experience still to go through. He had not been a disciple of John the Baptist. He had yet to see what a poor shallow affair an outward kingdom is. But being born of water takes us only a small way into the regeneration. Yon must follow up discipleship of John with discipleship of Jesus. You may cease to care for the old, and yet not have found your way to possession of the new. The only new creature worth calling such is the new creature in Christ Jesus. You must feel on your heart the breath of him who has eternal life. By repentance, old things pass away; by spiritual birth, all things become new. The spiritual man looks on a virtually new world. The precious becomes worthless, and the worthless precious; the once neglected is sought for, and the once sought for is neglected. - Y.
Parallel VersesKJV: Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.