“Since you have . . . purified your souls, . . . fervently love one another from
the heart, for you have been born again . . ." -- 1 Peter 1:23 (NIV)
In the Old Testament, the Jewish concept of salvation was about God rescuing and delivering the Israelites from their enemies – usually warring tribes, sometimes ill health. Jesus claimed to the women at the well that “salvation is from the Jews” (John 4:22) and his ministry focused upon the latter, healing those who were blind, deaf, and paralyzed, to mention just a few.
In Christianity, salvation took on a different meaning: salvation was about God rescuing the soul from hell; it was about getting into heaven after the body dies. We often hear of Christians who claim to have been ‘born again’. They have adopted this popular phrase to imply salvation; that is, accepting Jesus as their personal savior.
This terminology stems from a conversation between Jesus and Nicodemus, found in chapter three of John. The Master had reassured Nicodemus:
“You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’”
-- John 3:7 (NIV)
Nicodemus, however, was confused as to how one could become reborn. He was thinking of a physical rebirth, but Jesus was referring to a spiritual awakening. No one can enter God’s kingdom, Jesus reiterated, unless he is born of the Spirit. The Master thus illustrated a spiritual rebirth to his friend, Nicodemus:
“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.” -- John 3:8
Our reliance upon intellectual knowledge does not equate to spiritual intuition. The latter comes unexpectedly when the heart is receptive to our inner guidance from the Spirit.
Later this month of March, the ‘born again’ Christians from around the world shall celebrate Jesus’ miraculous resurrection during Holy Week. My dictionary states that resurrect means “to bring back to life”.
During his traveling ministry, Jesus was not only a healer, but a teacher of God’s resurrecting power.
* To those whose outlook was blinded by worries and doubts, he awakened the
Spirit within them so they could have eyes to see clearly.
* To those who were deaf, Jesus awakened them to the indwelling Spirit so they
could have ears to hear and understand.
* To those who were paralyzed, unable to move forward in their lives, he
awakened them to the Spirit within them so that they could rise above the
obstacles that kept them bounded.
In the Old Testament, Isaiah prophesized:
“‘. . . your God will come . . . with divine retribution he will come to save you.’
Then will the lame leap like a deer . . .” -- Isaiah 35:4-6 (NIV)