Dear Friends of “Dial Daily Bread,”
Nicodemus asked a pointed question that troubles every one of us, young or old: "How can a man be born when he is old?" (John 3:4). The word is geronin the Greek, from which we get gerontology, the science of growing old. (We get our word "grey" from that word too! In other words, Nicodemus asked, "How can a grey-haired person get converted!?")
Child psychologists usually agree that one forms his patterns of thinking and emotional response by the age of seven. Even a teenager has a decade of habit patterns of neurotransmitters developing a momentum hard to change, so he or she too is "old." If you haven't learned to play the violin well by 12, you'll probably never make it to Lincoln Center.
Now, how can a person be truly converted when he is "old"? The world says, "It's impossible." But Jesus took on Nicodemus, and said a decided "Yes!" to his question, "Most assuredly, ... do not marvel!" (vss. 5-7). Then He said that this miracle new birth comes about entirely by the work of the Holy Spirit (vs. 8).
Nicodemus was right in one respect--you can't re-birth yourself. Jesus hands out no do-it-yourself "be-born-again" kits. Paul got His point when he said, "From first to last this has been the work of God" (2 Cor. 5:18, The New English Bible). God plants the seed of the new birth in your soul like a wind carrying tree seeds far and wide and you "can't tell" how that gospel seed of hope got blown into your soul (see John 3:8), but it will germinate if you don't step on it and stamp it out. A seed germinating can break rocks and concrete! No human heart is too hard for what the Holy Spirit does therein.
Yes, Nicodemus! When a person is old, he or she can be born again! Jesus said, "Listen!" It happens by looking at Moses' "serpent" lifted up on a pole like the Israelites bitten by the poisonous snakes (vs. 14). The "serpent" represents Christ on His cross. You look and the poison of sin (self-love) is drawn out of your heart. You are born again by believing that love (vs. 16). "By grace you have been saved through faith" (Eph. 2:8). Perk up, Nicodemus! There's hope.
--Robert J. Wieland
From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: October 19, 1998.
Copyright © 2019 by "Dial Daily Bread."