The old religious leader scurried from night shadow to night shadow, trying not to draw attention to himself. Nicodemus was a big shot in Jewish religious circles, but he approached the young preacher at night to avoid the crowds. Jesus skipped the “howdy’s” and the “how ya doin’s” and got right to the point in this famous late-night interview. “You must be born again.” Jesus’ words fell somewhere short of the elder’s understanding. Born again? How can that be? Nicodemus knew about physical birth since he was likely a father and even a grandfather.
In a physical birth, visible features pass down from parent to child, and Nicodemus could see traces of his own skin color, facial features, and even his intellectual curiosity in his grandchildren. With present day science we know, more than Nicodemus could, how physical traits pass down genetically from one generation to the next. Science has become so refined that the presence of matching DNA in a child’s blood determines the identity of the father in paternity cases.
But Jesus was not speaking of physical birth, He was using the truth of physical and natural reality to inform the old scholar of spiritual, supernatural things. And the implication of that reality rocks our world still today! Think about this: In our spiritual birth, God’s spiritual DNA—the Holy Spirit—passes from the Heavenly Father to the newborn Christian.
Do you call yourself a Christian? Then my question for you is “Could you pass a paternity test to establish God as your father?” Is there any likeness the world could spot in your character? Do you have your Father’s eyes, seeing the best in others? How about His compassion, His love for the lost, His patience or power? If you bear little likeness to Christ, maybe you need, like Nicodemus, to be born again. And like Nicodemus, we may look mature and religious, yet have no clue how new life comes about.
When we admit our inability to please God by our own deeds, then accept the free gift of salvation earned by Jesus’s death on the cross, God births a new spirit inside us. This new birth is all God’s doing, and the only thing we can do is accept that gift of new life. With that new birth comes our new spiritual identity as a child of God.
I know that God is my Father, although I have a long way to go to truly be like Him. I yearn to obey Him, and to have the life of Christ in me. That is the proof of our paternity, the unmistakable presence of God’s DNA expressing itself in our daily lives. “And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out “Abba, Father!”” Galatians 4:6.
How would your paternity test turn out?