"That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.John 3:6(NASB)
When Nicodemus came to visit with Jesus by night, the Lord immediately knew the reason he had come. He recognised the spiritual need of this religious separatist. Even though he was a member of the Sanhedrin, a teacher of the Law, and supposed himself to be a guardian of the truth, Nicodemus was a man who was spiritually impoverished. He needed to know how to enter heaven and how to gain access into Christ's kingdom. He needed to know how to be saved.
Whether he came to Jesus by night for cultural reasons, privacy purposes, curiosity, for fear of reprisal from his Jewish peers, or simply out of respect for the Lord, Nicodemus found his way to Christ's dwelling-place and discovered that being born-again is God's requirement for entrance into heaven.
During their discourse, Jesus told Nicodemus three times the salvation truth he needed to hear. In verse three He replied, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God." Although he was a revered teacher who knew the letter of the Law, Nicodemus was spiritually blind to vital scriptural truth. He did not understand the spirit of the Law and the need for fallen man to have a spiritual birth - the need for sinful man to be cleansed of his sin by the washing of the water with the Word of God.
In verse 5 Jesus expanded this important truth, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God." Not only was he spiritually blind, but had to be reminded that entrance into heaven had nothing to do with his elevated position, his vast knowledge, his strict Law-enforcement, or great wealth. Like all fallen men, Nicodemus needed to be made whole - spiritually.
The third time Jesus imparted this truth to Nicodemus is in verse six, where he says, "That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit." Jesus is honing his understanding that there are two types of birth. The first is our physical birth into this world and the second is a spiritual birth into the new creation. One is a physical birth into the family of man, while the second is a spiritual birth into the family of God, "That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit."
Everything connected with the flesh is fleshly. Our flesh is associated with our human nature, our human character, and our human senses, and our human nature is a fallen nature - a sin nature. Our physical birth rendered us incapable of entering heaven, for tainted flesh and blood cannot enter into God's perfect kingdom which is why sinful man must be born again. Until a man's spiritual birth, he will not see heaven nor be able to enter the heavenly portal.
Once we have been saved by grace through faith... once we have been born again of the Spirit, we become a spiritual being. We are born from above, and until the day when we go to be with Jesus, we sojourn on earth within our fallen body - waiting for that great day of resurrection when this mortal body will be clothed with immortality and this perishable body will be replaced with an imperishable one.
That which is born of the physical flesh is fallen and fleshly and needs to be reborn into the spiritual realm, while that which is born of the Holy Spirit is spirit. It is perfect in Christ and needs to live and walk in spirit and truth all the days of our life, and for the glory of God.
Like Nicodemus, we had to realise that it is not what we do that gains access to heaven, but what Christ has already done on our behalf. Jesus became a physical being like us, yet He was without sin so that He could pay the price for humanities sin through the shedding of His sinless, human blood. And only by faith in that cleansing flood are we born of the Spirit, placed into Christ, and identified with His perfect holiness - even though we don't deserve it.
How long it took for this truth to blossom in the heart of Nicodemus we will never know, but as one of the men who laid Christ's dead body in the stone-cold tomb, we know that this dear man did not only SEE heaven with his spiritual eye of faith, but will enter the kingdom of heaven as a forgiven child of God and a member of the Body of Christ.
Thank You, Father, that the Word of God reveals our true, spiritual need. Thank You that the good news of the gospel is so clearly laid out in Scripture. Thank You that we have been given a bird's-eye view into the teaching of the new birth given to Nicodemus. Thank You for my physical birth into this world and for the opportunity to be born again and become a child of God, through faith in Christ. Thank You that I have been declared righteousness by faith in Christ and have Your assurance that I will not only see heaven, but will one day enter through the gates of pearl into Your heavenly presence. Thank You in Jesus' name, AMEN.