Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother's womb, and be born?John 3:4(KJV)
Spiritual understanding and godly wisdom does not come from much learning, nor is it gained from intense, intellectual study. True knowledge is from above and is given by God to the spiritual man or woman, for spiritual knowledge, wise discernment, and godly understanding is spiritually discerned.
The natural man does not understand the things of the invisible God. Indeed, they are foolishness to him. Likewise, the religious zealot cannot perceive of spiritual things, for the things of God are spiritually discerned.
And here in this important chapter on spiritual birth and a heavenly inheritance, we discover a great and respected teacher of the Law ignorant of the heavenly implications of the new, spiritual birth (in Christ), and the eternal consequences of being born from above.
Nicodemus had been steeped in Jewish tradition and had his eyes firmly fixed on the natural world. He could not refocus his narrow-minded thinking from the familiar but restricted physical realm, to the greater, supernatural, spiritual sphere of which the Lord Jesus was speaking.
Nicodemus was not suggesting some pagan reincarnation ritual when he asked, "How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter the second time into his mother's womb, and be born?" He was not making some sarcastic suggestion when he asked the Lord Jesus: "Can a man be born again when he is old?"
Christ knew that sinful man in his fallen state cannot be accepted into the spiritual realm of a holy God unless he becomes as perfect as God and as holy as the Father in heaven is holy, which is only possible if he is forgiven of his sins, accepted in Christ, and covered with the garment of Christ's perfect righteousness. Man in his fallen Adamic state can never perfect himself by works of the Law: "For by works of the Law shall no man living be justified."
Christ knew that being born into the old, human race (with sinful Adam as the federal head) meant being born a sinner (being imputed with Adam's sinfulness). It meant being born physically, being born from below, and being excluded from fellowship with a holy God and His heavenly kingdom.
Christ also knew that being 'born-again' into a new race (where the sinless Son of Man is the federal head), means being born from above or being born spiritually (being imputed with Christ's own righteousness - Who is the federal Head of the new creation). It meant a new birth, a spiritual birth into a new creation, a spiritual transfer from the 'old creation' in Adam to the 'new creation' in Christ for all who would believe. Christ knew that it was only by being born again that a man can enter the kingdom of heaven.
But Nicodemus had been steeped in Jewish tradition and he was devoid of spiritual understanding and godly wisdom. His eyes were fixed on the natural world, and so it was necessary for Christ to further explain that "unless a man is born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God." Unless a man who is born into this physical realm (born in Adam) is then reborn into the spiritual realm (born-again in Christ) he will not even see the kingdom of God.
Heavenly Father, thank You that You gave me life, formed me in my mother’s womb, and scheduled every day of my life. Thank You that You sought me out and brought me into Your kingdom through spiritual birth. How I praise You that I have been born from above, have become part of a new creation in Christ, and am covered in His righteousness. Thank You that in Christ, I am already part of His spiritual kingdom and will one day rule and reign with Him when He sets up His throne on earth. In Jesus' name, AMEN.