The Gospel of John

“The Wind Bloweth Where It Will”

Jesus’ statement, “Verily, verily I say unto thee, except one be born anew he cannot see the Kingdom of God” (John 3:3) brought an astonished response from Nicodemus, a Jewish ruler who had already accepted Jesus as “a teacher come from God.” Although Nicodemus was slow in understanding Jesus’ teaching, he had seen Jesus’ miraculous deeds and recognized that they showed Jesus was “God-sent.”

In response to Jesus’ words Nicodemus exclaimed, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” (John 3:4). Jesus seemed to ignore Nicodemus’ reply when he followed up his first comments to him. “Verily, Verily I say unto thee, Except one be born of the water and Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” And yet, while it might appear Jesus did not respond to Nicodemus, further reflection shows He did. The new birth, as Jesus described it; was not physical but spiritual: “water and Spirit.”

When one considers just one possibility of the nature of the Messiah’s kingdom, it is difficult to grasp another. To Nicodemus the Messiah’s kingdom could be nothing but physical. After all, it’s king was to be a descendant of David and which king would sit on David’s throne. David had ruled over a physical kingdom. Why would not His coming Son also reign over a physical kingdom? That kingdom being something other than physically never entered Nicodemus’ mind and it was difficult to think of it otherwise. It is that same attitude which causes millions today to reject the Messiah’s kingdom which He did establish and to look for a coming, literal kingdom with Christ seated on David’s throne in literal Jerusalem, where He will reign for 1,000 years which He has never promised.

Jesus’ words, “That which is born of the flesh is flesh and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit” (John 3:6) gives the key of understanding to Nicodemus, but at first Jesus’ words made very little impression with him. Those who say Jesus changed His plans from setting up a physical kingdom to building His church say He changed His mind because His nation rejected Him. Jesus knew His nation was going to do that before He ever came to earth. After all, His Holy Spirit had inspired Isaiah to write, “He was despised and rejected of men” (Isaiah 53:3). The truth is that this exchange between Jesus and Nicodemus occurred early in His ministry and shows that from the earliest days of His ministry He taught the spiritual nature of His kingdom. When he stood before Pilate the day of His crucifixion and said, “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were then would my servants fight that I should not be delivered unto the Jews …” (John 18:36), this was not a change from His early teaching. To the contrary, it showed that a spiritual kingdom was always what Jesus had in mind.

Jesus said, “That which is born of the flesh is flesh and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” While Nicodemus was physically a Jew there was a part of him which was spirit and that spirit had to be born again.

Jesus continued His teaching. “Marvel not that I say unto you ye must be born anew. The wind bloweth where it will and thou hearest the sound thereof but knoweth not wither it cometh or whither it goeth. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit” (John 3:7-8). This illustration of the wind has many explanations of the mysteries of the new birth, a familiar one being that when one is born again he cannot explain what has happened to him except that something marvelous has. The problem with this explanation is that the wind is not likened unto the new birth. It is likened unto the one who is born again. Jesus spoke of the wind, and the said, “So is every one who is born of the Spirit.” Just as one cannot see the wind, one cannot see the spirit. But there is a wind and there is a Spirit too.

There is a wind and no one has ever seen it. Man sees the effect of the wind — breeze on our faces, the rustling of the leaves — but no one sees the wind. Yet, who will say, “There is no wind”? The one who is born of the Spirit is like the wind. You can’t see man’s spirit, but it exists. There is an eternal part of man. When God purposed to create man He said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness..And God created man in his image, in the image of God created he them; male and female, created He them” (Genesis 1:27-28). God is Spirit. Man, created in the image of God, is spirit too. When man is born he is an eternal spirit in a mortal body. Solomon wrote, “Then shall the dust return unto the dust as it was and the spirit shall return to God who gave it” (Ecclesiastes 12:7). In the resurrection that eternal spirit will be given an eternal, spiritual body for “it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body” (1 Corinthians 15:44). To insure eternal bliss and well-being for that eternal spirit, it must “be born anew, born of water and the spirit” (John 3:5). Remember, what is born of the flesh, and what is born of the Spirit is spirit.

Jim McDonald