by David Reynolds
John’s close-up of Jesus and Nicodemus allows us to see the lines in their faces and to listen in on their whispered conversation.
With a furtive glance over his shoulder Nicodemus offers Jesus faint praise: “Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him” (John 3:2).
Jesus brushes aside the patronizing words of this spiritually dull religious teacher and says, “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” To which Nicodemus responds, “How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” (John 3:3-4). Jesus answers, “Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God” (John 3:5).
Nicodemus has assured himself that because he is an Israelite he is in the kingdom of God by right of birth. What a shock to hear Jesus say that he must be born again to enter God’s kingdom!
But there’s more. Jesus says to Nicodemus, “The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit” (John 3:8).
Nicodemus, with a frown of conster nation, raises his hand and asks, “How can these things be?”
The Teacher of the teacher says, “Art thou a master of Israel, and knowest not these things? … If I have told you earthly things and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if! tell you of heavenly things?” (John 3:10,12).
One of the “earthly things” Jesus talked about that night was the metaphor of the wind. There are several emblems of the Spirit in Scripture, including oil, fire, the dove, and water. But here the wind is an emblem of the Spirit-filled believer. Every translation of verse 8 I have read supports the idea that it is the Spirit-filled believer hearest everyone himself or herself who is like the wind. A person born of the Spirit is free.
If we apply the metaphor of the wind to the words, “the wind bloweth where it listeth,” then Jesus is saying that everyone who is born of the Spirit of God is free like the wind.
In another place, Jesus says, “If the Son … shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed” (John 8:36). Paul says that we have been “made free from sin” (Romans 6:22) and “Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty” (II Corinthians 3: 17) and “Christ hath made us free” (Galatians 5: 1).
A person born of the Spirit is audible. Jesus says of the wind, “Thou hearest the sound thereof.” We do not stretch the metaphor beyond reason if we say the words “so is every one that is born of the Spirit” also mean that Spirit-filled people are audible.
Peter says, “When the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven. Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language. And they were all amazed and marvelled, saying one to another, Behold, are not all these and thou which speak Galilaeans? And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born?” (Acts 2:1-8).
Later in the Book of Acts, the Jews who are present when the first Gentiles receive the Holy Ghost are astonished “because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost. For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God” (Acts 10:45-46).
Every person born of the Spirit is audible because every person born of the Spirit speaks in other tongues as the Spirit gives utterance.
A person born of the Spirit is an enigma. Jesus says we are unable to tell where the wind comes from or where it goes. Indeed, the wind is a great mystery. Even those who study the wind are awed and baffled by this phenomenon of nature. Some primitive cultures believed the wind originated in a cave that was shrouded in mystery.
The person born of the Spirit is a mystery. On the Day of Pentecost people where confounded and amazed and doubtful. But some who were confounded, amazed, and doubtful asked one another, “What meaneth this?” (Acts 2: 12).
Shouldn’t people be asking that same question today about people who are born of the Spirit, people who are like the windfree, audible, and enigmatic?