“You have made known to me the path of life” Psalm 16: 11 (NIV)
I came under cover of darkness. With my face buried in the hood of my cloak I walked quickly to the place where I knew He’d be. He was waiting. A flickering lamp cast a pale glow. I couldn’t see His face in the gloom, but knew it was Him. I sat down. He was a nondescript man, a rube from the provinces. Not like me; a councillor of repute. That’s why I’d had to steal in like a thief. Reputations don’t come easy you see.
There was no preamble, no idle talk. I got to the point. “Teacher, we know you come from God for no one could do all the things you do if God didn’t have His hand in it.” It was more than a statement, a question really. I wanted to know, needed to know if He’d come from God.
He didn’t say anything at first, just looked at me. I held his gaze. I’d come to examine Him but He was examining me. Then, in a gentle voice He declared, “I’m telling you straight up, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he’s born again.”
What did He mean? I’d heard He spoke in riddles. So I asked the obvious. Asked how a grown man can get back into his mother’s womb. He leaned in. “Listen,” He said, “Unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.” I could feel his breath on my face . . . “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Don’t be surprised at this; you must be born again!”
It was like a knife had pierced my heart. I’d thought we were talking about a new truth but He was talking about a new beginning . . . about a new beginning for me! With a tremulous voice I asked, “How can this be?”
He leaned back as He continued. “You are a learned man, a teacher, a leader, and you still don’t understand? I’ll give it to you in plain talk: I’ve told you of the things that are here on earth and you don’t believe. How are you going to believe if I tell you about the things of Heaven? Only the Son of Man, who is from Heaven, knows what goes on in Heaven.”
I think I was starting to get it. There was more to life; much more to it than I’d been led to understand. I inched forward. Not wanting to miss a word.
“This is how much God loved the world,” He said. “He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And why, why did God give the world his Son? So that no one need be destroyed. By believing in Him anyone can have a whole and lasting life.”
He continued, His words alive, piercing my heart. Before long, we were done. He had an economy with words. After sitting for a few minutes in companionable silence I gathered up my cloak and left. I didn’t leave as I’d come; I left a new man.