Frequently Asked Questions
What is the New Birth? - Part
"Y'shua answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother's womb, and be born?"
The 'teacher' from God is now going to teach Nikdimon a few things. In response to this rulers statement about miracles and His relationship with God, Y'shua remarks that Nikdimon cannot see the kingdom of God unless he is born from above. The English words 'born again' translate the Greek words gennethe anothen. These words literally mean to be 'birthed from above.' I find it interesting that Y'shua would respond to Nikdimon's remarks about Y'shua's relationship with God in this way. It almost seems as if Y'shua shifts the subject to something that He deems to be more important. But, the contextual facts point to Y'shua responding directly to the 'Torah' teacher's remarks. This teacher come from God tells Nikdimon that he cannot 'see' the kingdom of God unless he is born from above. Traditionally, this statement is understood to mean that a person cannot enter into the kingdom, go to heaven and be with Jesus, or be a member of the true church, unless he has been born again. While all three of these, laying aside some western terminology, may be true, this is not the focus or context of Messiah's response. Y'shua is indeed reacting to Nikdimon's opening comments. Y'shua's reply to Nikdimon is that he cannot SEE the kingdom of God unless he is born from above. The word 'see' here is the Hebrew word ra'ah. This word does express the ability to 'sight' something, but this is not how it is dominantly used in the scriptures. This word means to understand or perceive. The use of ears and eyes in the Hebrew language express the concept of understanding and putting into practice. Hear O Israel, YHVH our God, YHVH He is one. This implies that His people are to apprehend and apply the truth that YHVH is our Father and King, and that He is the ONLY Father and King. Understanding this truth leads quite naturally to comprehension and obedience to the instructions and teachings of the King. The word ra'ah is many times translated as 'behold'.
"BEHOLD, I set before you this day a blessing and a curse;"
This verse teaches us to look, see, and understand that obedience produces blessings and disobedience produces curses. Messiah speaks to Nikdimon in the say way that He spoke to the prophets and fathers of old - as the Word of God. This teacher come from God, turns to this great teacher of the Pharisees and tells him that he cannot understand or rightly apply the kingom of God unless he has been birthed from above. In other words, the kingdom of God is not just in knowing the scriptures (the letter of Torah) but knowing (yada') the Author of the scripures (the spirit of Torah).
"Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me. And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life."
The Tenakh, a document that Nikdimon was assumed to know well, is replete with prophecies foretelling all that Nikdimon had witnessed to this point. We will soon see that Y'shua held Nikdimon responsible to know all the prophectic events of the reuniting of the kingdom of God. The gospel of Yochanan is not written as an historical document. There is no clear chronological order of the events of the life of Messiah, as they are seen in the 'synoptic' gospels. This is one reason why one of Yochanan's other books (Hitgalut, Revelation) is hard to grasp chronologically as well. Nikdimon has already witnessed much of the works, miracles, and teachings of Y'shua. He does not understand the prophetic fulfillments of the kingdom of God which have been taking place right in front of him. Which brings us to another error in traditional Christian teaching. The kingdom of God is eternal. It is where the King is. The kingdom of God is not something you enter when you die and go to the man upstairs. It is not something you 'fly' to. Everlasting life is not something you get when you die. A true believer and follower of God enters the kingdom of God and HAS everlasting life when he or she is birthed from above.
"He that believeth on the Son HAS everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not SEE life; but the wrath of God abideth on him."
Notice the use of the word 'see life' in this verse. All the prophecies of the kingdom of God uttered by the prophets of old are coming to pass and will come to pass, and Nikdimon should have known this. This is why the scriptures say that the testimony of Y'shua is the spirit of prophecy. Nikdimon had already heard Y'shua state that He was the 'lamb of God' (Yochanan 1:36). Notice again that Yochanan the immerser said, BEHOLD (ra'ah), the Lamb of God! The text of Yochanan 3:1-2 implies that Nikdimon was already familiar or informed of what Y'shua had said and done. He had just listened to Y'shua claiming to be the rebuilt tabernacle spoken of in ‘Amos 9:11. He had already witnessed His claim to be restorer of the ancient paths and repairer of the breach, the one whom Eliyahu was to prepare the way for, the righteous Branch and King of Yirmeyahu 23. These prophetic fulfillments are understood by those with eyes to see and ears to hear. Those who have the seed of the Almighty One and Author of the Old Testament prophecies. This only fits all of the context of this confrontation with the great ruler and teacher of the Pharisees. The bottom line is that the kingdom of God is a place that is entered into by faith and a birth from above, and the things of this kingdom can only be fully understood and applied when a person has been made a Son of the Living God by the uniting of a seed with an egg, or a birth from above.
This brings us to Nikdimons p'shatic response to Y'shua's comments. I know, I made that word up. All the commandments of God carry with them an earthly, material, and external, bodily purpose, There is nothing ritualistic or ceremonial in God's Torah. There is a function and purpose to all His commandments. As time marches on, man eventually comes to a fuller understanding, through true science, of the rationale of all of Torah. The teaching by Jewish or Christian theologians that any of Torah is ritual or simply pomp and ceremony is man made, and has been and will be proven to be so in the process of time. Every command in Torah also has a deeper, prophetic and eternal meaning as well. Nikdimon immediately went for the earthly interpretation. Y'shua will refer to these two meanings later on in His conversation with Nikdimon. Nikdimon understood the 'birth' part of Y'shua's comments. It was the 'above' part that seem to confuse him.
It is my contention that the whole concept and teaching behind the 'born again' experience cannot be fully understood outside of the principle of the seed, a seminal teaching that Nikdimon should have understood. You might say that this principle is the foundation of Wildbranch. The word 'wildbranch' was taken from this germinal truth. There are, at the very least, four fundamental scriptural teachings concerning our relationship with God that are directly related to this teaching. Our relationship with God in the prophecies as a harvest, wheat and tares, our relationship with Israel as one tree, our relationship with Messiah as a bride, and our relationship with the Father as children, i.e birth. Now I ask you, are these unimportant, trivial or back burner issues? All of these teachings begin in the first three chapters of B'reshiyt. The bottom line is that all living entities that reproduce do so by means of a seed. This seed comes in various forms. There is a literal or p'shat purpose of the giving of seeds. God placed the physical seed upon the earth so that literal fruit would be produced. He placed within that living fruit, another seed. These are the earthly principles that God gave man so that he might understand (see, ra'ah) eternal principles. The parable of the sower, as presented by Luke, tells us that the seed is the Word of God. Messiah also tells us that His Word is spirit and it is life (Yochanan 1:1-4, 6:63). When man searches out the meaning of those things that pertain to earthly life, he soon finds the seminal principles of spiritual life. This was very common in the teaching practices of the Rabbinical minds in the time of Y'shua. If Nikdimon had truly regarded Y'shua as a teacher come from God, then he would have applied his own standards of hermenuetics to Y'shua's remarks. This is why Y'shua will reprove Nikdimon later on. The point is that Nikdimon knew what traditional 'Jewish' methods this teacher come from God was using.
Simply put, this birth from above that Y'shua will expound upon is based and founded upon an earthly understanding of how living things reproduce. A birth clearly implies a mother and a father, a seed and an egg. This birth brings harmony to God's teaching from the beginning, for all that is to be God's enters into His house, a house that contains a family. Family members share at least two things in common, a mother and a father, who by their becoming one flesh, reproduce after themselves. The new birth is the uniting of a seed (the Word of God, masculine) with an egg (faith, feminine). To be continued.