Jesus replied, “Truly I tell you, unless someone is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Jesus answered, “Truly, I tell you, unless someone is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.” John 3:3&5 CSB
I will also sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean. I will cleanse you from all your impurities and all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will remove your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. I will place my Spirit within you and cause you to follow my statutes and carefully observe my ordinances. Ezekiel 36:25-27 CSB
I love how many of the New Testament words of Jesus quote or reference Old Testament verses. Because if anyone knows the scriptures, it’s Jesus! In our first verse from John, Jesus is explaining to Nicodemus, a Pharisee, how to be “born again,” how to be saved and become a child in God’s kingdom. Nicodemus is skeptical as he can only imagine a true “rebirth.”
Jesus is referring back to a prophecy from Ezekiel, who spoke to God’s people over 500 years before Jesus was born. Ezekiel first judged the people and their leaders for turning away from God and His commandments. But later Ezekiel spoke words of hope to Israel; God’s promises to cleanse His people, give them a new heart and His Spirit so that they will follow Him.
It would be almost 600 years before this prophecy was fulfilled in Jesus.
When Nicodemus came to talk to Jesus, he said that he knew Jesus was from God because of all the miracles and signs that Jesus performed. Because Jesus knew that Nicodemus studied the Old Testament and the prophets, He used words from Ezekiel that Nicodemus would recognize. We don’t find out whether Nicodemus believed or not after all that Jesus told him.
But what we do know is this. The same prophecy from Ezekiel is offered to each and every one who believes on Jesus today. We are cleansed and forgiven our sins. Our hardened hearts are replaced with hearts to love our God and others. We welcome the gift of the Holy Spirit within us. Jesus lived, died, and arose so that we could be called children of God, saved and “born again” of the water (baptism) and the Spirit.
This week let’s renew our hearts with love and embrace the Spirit at work within us. Share the good news of Jesus and the fulfillment of Ezekiel’s prophecy, with others. We have new hearts and God’s own Spirit.
I thank God for each of you! And I thank you for joining me this week as we live out Ezekiel’s prophecy fulfilled by Jesus; cleansed, gifted a new heart and a new Spirit!
Blessings and new hearts full of love and the Spirit!