The language of Jesus is somewhat confusing to Nicodemus and I can hardly blame him for being confused. It is not immediately apparent from the context of the situation exactly what Jesus means. We readers have the advantage of hindsight and 2000 years of analysis in order to understand what Jesus means, but spare a thought for Nicodemus who has none of this.

Jesus tells Nicodemus that He must be born of the Spirit and from of above if he truly wants to follow Jesus and understand His teaching. The same is true for us today! We will not understand the message of the Gospel unless we approach it with faith and seek to understand it with the help of the Holy Spirit. What Jesus is telling Nicodemus is that a whole process of conversion has to go on in his life before he will fully understand what He, Jesus, is preaching. This conversion only takes place under the grace of the Holy Spirit.

The Jewish faith had become very dependent upon very human interpretations and applications of the Law of Moses to the lives of the people. Jesus is signaling that this must come to an end a new era of the Holy Spirit is about to be introduced whereby each person will receive the Holy Spirit, as though being born again and it is the Spirit that will become the primary guide of the pilgrim of faith. This does not mean that there will be no room for what we understand as the institutional aspect of religion but that the days of the reign of institutional religion are over and he should prepare himself for a new understanding of faith.

Being born of the Spirit, that is from above, is Jesus’ way of describing a new way of life centered on the Holy Spirit as leader and guide of the individual. Jesus wants us all to take greater responsibility for our lives and not just do what other people are telling us to do. We need to learn to trust the guidance of the Holy Spirit in our lives. Of course, this is all within reason, the Holy Spirit will never lead us into sin, so there are still checks and balances in it all.

How trusting am I of the leading of the Holy Spirit in my life? Can I grow in this area of my faith?

Holy Spirit, lead me deeper into God’s ways of truth and love. Show me His will for my life and help me to follow it faithfully.