Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a member of the Jewish ruling council. He came to Jesus at night and said, “Rabbi, we know you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the miraculous signs you are doing if God were not with him.”
In reply Jesus declared, “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.”
“How can a man be born when he is old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely he cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb to be born!”
Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit.” (John 3:1-6)
I think Nicodemus is a guy we can all relate to. He is a leader in his community, a teacher of the law. Jesus enters the scene and Nicodemus is not sure of who he is anymore. He has lost his identity. Can any of you relate?
You have all come here from different places, families, and high schools. And I imagine that in each of those places you have a particular role or identity that you fill. But the question remains…
Who am I…really?
Well I think we can spend a lot of time searching to find our identity in all sorts of things. Right? You see this all the time in high school. How many of you know the guy whose entire life is staked in his athletic career? Or the girl who has to be friends with everyone? Or maybe it’s academics? Have you ever heard someone say, “If I don’t get an ‘A’ , my life is over.” Or “If I don’t get into NHS, I have no future.”
We do this all the time in tons of different ways. And there is nothing wrong with wanting to be good at sports or school, or wanting to have friends; but understand that everything fades. And when this thing, this identity that you have invested so much of yourself into fades away, what do you do?
Because if you don’t know by now, you will find out soon enough; friends leave, bodies break, and people change.
What happens then? Who are you when it is all stripped away?
Well, I don’t think this identity crisis stops in high school or college. It’s something that people struggle with their whole lives. But if we return to our text we see that Jesus has an answer for Nicodemus and for us. Jesus says, “No one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit.”
Did you catch that? “Spirit gives birth to the spirit.” Jesus is talking about baptism here. If you are baptized you are born of the spirit. If you are born of someone you are their child. As someone baptized, you are a child of God.
This is where you find your identity!
The very core of who you are is a child of God.
In your baptism you are baptized into Christ and into his death. In Romans, Paul puts it like this; “We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.”
We have been made alive in Christ! The very core of our being, what it means to be human, is to be found in Christ as God’s child.
Find your sense of place, value, and identity in the One who has claimed you as His child.
You have been baptized in the Spirit. God is your Father. The Bible tells us that Jesus is our Lord and our Brother. Because of God’s action in your life, you don’t have to search all over for your identity in this world. You can rest in the identity He has given you… His child.
Question 1: Is there any “identity” in my life that I put ahead of my identity in God?
Question 2: What would it look like to live a life with an identity found solely in Christ?