Born Again!

Sermon Series: Caught By the Spirit

Born Again!

Confirmation Sunday

April 12, 2012 - April 15, 2012

Genesis 1:1-2; 2:4-7; John 3:1-16

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Todd Hvizdak

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Born Again!! By Todd Hvizdak

The Holy Spirit always gets the short end on the triune nature of God. We always think of God being around forever. He is the alpha and the omega the beginning and the end. He was around before the world existed and will be around when the world is long gone. What about Jesus and the Holy Spirit? We always celebrate Jesus being born. But we sometimes forget He was there from the beginning of time too. We have John 1 to remind us of this.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning.

And what about the Holy Spirit? The Holy Spirit just does not show up just on Pentecost, He was around since the beginning of time as well. Scripture points us to the fact that  the Holy Spirit was there at creation and was around all throughout the Old Testament. In Genesis 1:1-2

1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 2 Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.

In different translations the Spirit, is a great wind, or the Holy Spirit which was there at creation. The spirit was not just sitting back and watching God do all the work, but was actively involved hovering over the waters like a bird over its eggs waiting for them to hatch.  The Holy Spirit played a role in the birth of the world and mankind and the Holy Spirit plays a role in our rebirth into a new creation.

I want to take you back to the time when Jesus walked the earth. There was a man named Nicodemus. He was probably in his fifties or sixties. Gray haired and distinguished. He was a teacher of the law.

1 Now there was a Pharisee, a man named Nicodemus who was a member of the Jewish ruling council.

Nicodemus was a Pharisee, Pharisee’s get a bad rap in the gospel. But not all Pharisees were power hungry dictators. Sometimes they did have a love for God and his law. I’m sure at some point in Nicodemus life he did love God and was passionate about Him. But I think over time obeying the Law and following God became more of a routine then a passion. Nicodemus was just going through the motions.

That was until the day that Jesus showed up in town. Nicodemus probably stopped and listen to Jesus preach in the temple once or twice and something sparked a fire within him and he wanted to hear more.

 One night he got enough courage to go see this Jesus. He decided to go at night, because Nicodemus still had a fear to be seen with a man that was teaching and going against everything he and his colleges taught and practiced.

I imagine the night came and Nicodemus probably dressed in the darkest clothes he owned and he probably snuck down the street avoiding all the lights in the streets sneaking from shadow to shadow. Finally he came to the house Jesus was staying at (it took longer than it should of because he took the long way around so no one would recognize him)  When he got there he knocked on the door. It probably wasn’t a knock, knock, knock!! More like a tap tap tap.

When Jesus came to the door do you think he was loud and shouted, “Hi Nicodemus how you doing!” or was He quite to protect the identity of who was at the door.  Here is what the Bible says

2 He came to Jesus at night and said, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the signs you are doing if God were not with him.”

3 Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born again. [A]

Wow that is a little awkward. Maybe a thank you or even your right, but a, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born again.”

It must be nice being Jesus and not having to beat around the bush or do the awkward small talk like how’s the weather. He jumps right to the heart of why Nicodemus was there.  

I don’t know about you but I would have been at lost for words, but Nicodemus was able to respond this way.

4 “How can anyone be born when they are old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely they cannot enter a second time into their mother’s womb to be born!”

I remember watching the miracle of birth in health class in school and then watching the birth of my sons.. there is no going back a second time.

Jesus knew Nicodemus did not understand, so Jesus tried explaining it to him again in a different way.

5 Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and the Spirit. 6 Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit[b] gives birth to spirit. 7 You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You[c] must be born again.’ 8 The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”[d]

9 “How can this be?” Nicodemus asked.

10 “You are Israel’s teacher,” said Jesus, “and do you not understand these things? 11 Very truly I tell you, we speak of what we know, and we testify to what we have seen, but still you people do not accept our testimony. 12 I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things? 13 No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven—the Son of Man.[e] 14 Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up,[f] 15 that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.”[g]

I am not sure if Nicodemus understood or was confused or if he decided he just heard enough. But he got up and slid out into the dark street the same way he came in so that no one would notice him.

So what happened to Nicodemus? Did he walk away accepting Jesus, teaching and become born again? We don’t know. He does appear a couple more times in scripture In John 7 we find Nicodemus trying to defend Jesus in front of his other Pharisees.

50 Nicodemus, who had gone to Jesus earlier and who was one of their own number, asked, 51 “Does our law condemn a man without first hearing him to find out what he has been doing?”

Again, in the book of John we see Nicodemus after Jesus was crucified.

38 Later, Joseph of Arimathea asked Pilate for the body of Jesus. Now Joseph was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly because he feared the Jewish leaders. With Pilate’s permission, he came and took the body away. 39 He was accompanied by Nicodemus, the man who earlier had visited Jesus at night. Nicodemus brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds.[e] 40 Taking Jesus’ body, the two of them wrapped it, with the spices, in strips of linen. This was in accordance with Jewish burial customs. 41 At the place where Jesus was crucified, there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb, in which no one had ever been laid. 42 Because it was the Jewish day of Preparation and since the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there.


Both of these acts went against every fiber of being a Pharisee. Nicodemus is standing up against his fellow Pharisees.  He is touching the dead body but not just any body… the one the Pharisees just had crucified.


What did Jesus say that night to Nicodemus that impacted his life in such a way he would risk his own life.

“Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and the Spirit. 6 Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit[b] gives birth to spirit. 7

What does it mean to be born again? Well let’s first look at who are the Nicodemus’ in the room. You don’t need to be old to be Nicodemus. It does not mater if you are 15 or 75. Are you a person who has the habits of faith without the heart of faith?  Has going to church reading your bible, prayer just become something to do on a Sunday or Thursday, Are you going through the rituals with out being truly present. Has your relationship with God become an obligation, more than a love affair? Has your religion become more of a ritual than the spirit blowing where it may?

Jesus wants us to come in and sit down with Him. He wants to speak into our lives just like he did that night with Nicodemus. He wants to tell us we need to be born again. We need to be born of water and the Spirit.

Two parts. Water and Spirit.

Let’s us look at the water first. We cannot live without water in us and around us. So it is spiritually. We can’t live spiritually without the cleansing water of God in us and washing over us daily. We are sinful people and we need to be cleansed by the waters of God from the inside out.

Let me explain further.

By nature we are all sinful, unclean people who need Gods cleansing water of forgiveness to flow over us. You must live in the water daily because no matter how you live you will always need God’s living water.

But there is a second half to being born again and that is being born of the spirit. It is not just a onetime spiritual high. Because every high, has a valley. Soda tastes great the day you open it but what does an open bottle of soda taste like the next day? I have been on some great spiritual highs, conferences I went to, trips with youth or confirmation class. But yesterday’s spiritual highs can be flat today. 

So what does it mean to be born of the spirit? It is not about a spiritual high but about having the spirit of God in you. Living in you, making Himself evident in and through you. It is an everyday renewal.

What does this all mean?  Being born again, having been born of water and spirit, the same spirit that was there the day the earth was born and the day you were reborn. It means you have accepted the gift of grace that was set forth to us on the cross. It means your life has changed. It means you love the Lord your God with all your heart soul and mind and you love your neighbor as you self. It means you have been changed from the inside out.

Today, this confirmation Sunday, we have 13 students that are professing publicly that they have been born again in the same way Jesus commands in our scripture text today.  All of them professing their faith in our God and His redemptive work in their lives, and five of them who have not yet been baptized will go through this public sacrament as a testament of what God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit has already done in their lives.  In this our confirmation Sunday we are experiencing and seeing this being born-again of water and spirit.

Maybe you have come to the point where you want to stop going through the motions, You want to live the real thing. Maybe this is the first time you have heard this and God is doing something inside you. It is as simple as this to begin:

16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

To contact Todd Hvizdak about this sermon, please email or write to: Brunswick Presbyterian Church, 42 White Church Lane, Troy, NY 12180