"... no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit." (John 3:5)

"How can someone be born when they are old?" Nicodemus asked. "Surely they cannot enter a second time into their mother's womb to be born!" Jesus answered, "Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit." (John 3:4-5)

What is Jesus describing?

Nicodemus is responding to Jesus' statement that one must be born again. Nicodemus doesn't understand the term. He is wondering if Jesus is describing the physical body being born after it was born as an infant.

This is not an uncommon response to this term. Today, many sectarian teachers teach about the need to be born again. And many parishioners talk about having been born again.

But do we really understand what being born again is? Certainly, it is a little difficult to understand given that we typically only see the human body only being born once as an infant.

Jesus responds by discussing the meaning of spiritual rebirth.

What does 'born of the water and the Spirit' mean?

The 'water and the Spirit' refers specifically to a spiritual rebirth. Jesus and his teacher John the Baptist utilized baptism to symbolize having a chance of heart while being given a blessing from the Supreme Being.

This combination of immersion and blessing from God through His servant was illustrated by the baptism of Jesus by John:
Then John gave this testimony: "I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him. And I myself did not know him, but the One who sent me to baptize with water told me, 'The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is the One who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.' I have seen and I testify that this is God's Chosen One." (John 1:32-34)
John is humbly describing his own form of baptism. If John was not baptizing with the spirit then why would Jesus undergo baptism with John? Why would Jesus have undertaken baptism with John if John was not baptizing with the spirit?

Certainly, John also baptized with the Holy Spirit. That is why John described how the Spirit came down as a dove. Because John's baptism had power. It had authority.

John also describes, "but the One who sent me to baptize ..." Who is the "One who sent me"?

John is referring to the Supreme Being. God sent John to teach thousands of people and gave many of them baptism in the River Jordan.

To say that his baptism was only water is to take John's statement out of context. He wasn't saying his baptism had no meaning and purpose. Rather, he was humbly describing his own power while promoting Jesus' power and authority.

Certainly, John wanted Jesus to succeed. He also saw Jesus as better than himself. But this is typically what a humble person does. Someone with spiritual humility will downplay their own authority and glorify someone else. This is also what Jesus taught:
"Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant (Matthew 20:26)

"The greatest among you will be your servant." (Matthew 23:11)
John the Baptist was Jesus' teacher. He illustrated personally what being "great among you" meant.

What does 'enter the kingdom of God' mean?

To 'enter the kingdom of God' doesn't have anything to do with going to heaven. This is because everywhere is part of God's kingdom. What is being discussed is returning to our loving relationship with the Supreme Being. This can occur whether or not we are here in this physical world.

The Supreme Being set up a world that helps us learn about ourselves. But this world also gives each of us the freedom to love Him or not.

Ultimately God created us for the purpose of exchanging a relationship with Him. Still, if we aren't interested in exchanging a relationship with Him we don't have to. He will not force His love upon us. We can reject Him at any time. We can avoid Him, and live within this physical world feeling that we are the center of the universe for thousands and thousands of lifetimes.

This is because love requires freedom. God gave us the freedom to love Him or not.

So "being born again" is having a change of heart that says, I choose to return to God. God will not let us come home unless we want to be with Him. We have to want to return to our original relationship of loving service to Him.

If we still want to be God or enjoy like God there is no place for us in the spiritual dimension. This is because the spiritual dimension is a place where everyone loves one another, and everything is focused upon God's enjoyment. Everyone is enjoying God's enjoyment. If we try to enter the spiritual dimension with our self-centered attitude, it simply will not work. We will not be able to function.

The spiritual kingdom is a beautiful place where everyone cares more about their Best Friend the Supreme Being and each other more than they care about themselves. This is what love is.

Imagine a dinner table where the family was all making sure that everyone else had enough to eat. What would happen? Everyone would get enough to eat, right? Now imagine another table where everyone's major concern was whether they would get enough to eat. What would happen here? They would fight over the food, and the strongest people would get the food and the weakest people would starve. Isn’t this what is happening throughout the physical world?