I never really liked joining in on the neighborhood baseball games. It was usually too hot or there was too much physical exertion to be made on my part, but the biggest reason, I was inferior. I never could time my swing out to hit the ball. Baseball just wasn’t my cup of tea. Having a tea party, well that was another story. My brother was the baseball player of the neighborhood. Even being one of the youngest on the block, he was pretty much better than anyone else. He was always picked first. Being the oldest of us two, that did nothing to salve by bruised ego because when I played, (and that was rarely,) I was usually picked last. Every one knew I couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn, and that my preferred modus operandi was to not swing and just hope for a walk. Most times my brother was the pitcher and he rarely threw balls. In case you are not following the chain of events, I struck out a lot. Therefore I did not play baseball or softball as a youth. I just wasn’t good enough.
Nicodemus came that night to Jesus with all the right kind of spiritual credentials, or so he thought. He was born a Jew. He was a teacher of the law for heaven’s sake. His life was exemplary. If you could work your way into the kingdom of God, Nicodemus would have been picked first. But that’s not the way of things according to Jesus response to this Pharisee. Judaism and religion are just strikes in the salvation baseball game. The keeping of the Law had its limitations. Jesus was telling Nicodemus, “He just wasn’t good enough.” Based on his good works, Nicodemus totally strikes out. His works, law keeping, and teaching could not gain him access into the kingdom of God. They were inadequate. He thought the person did the work. Jesus says salvation is all on God.
“Jesus replied, ‘Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.’ “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. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.” John 3:3-7
Born again. Those words have tripped up many throughout the centuries. We could call it “Christianeze.” Hard words to understand, but Jesus used them so they must have meaning. Born again in the Greek are the words “gennethe another” which simply means – born from above. Nicodemus had had many discussions of salvation among his peers, but in this conversation, no rules were given by the umpire. There was no system, there was no code or ritual. You couldn’t wear your same victorious socks or eat your same victorious pre game meal. Salvation just doesn’t work like that.
Salvation comes from God alone. No one can understand it. We are human. We are flesh and blood. We are born into the world. We are surrounded by worldly things. Only God can breathe understanding into us. Even as I sit here and write this out, I am questioning myself. “Where am I going with this? What do I really mean to say?” All I know is, if I depended on my good works, i.e. Church attendance or good deeds or correct doctrine, all my batting skills, I would totally strike out. There would be no way I could gain entrance into God’s Hall of Fame. I can’t look right , I can’t speak Good enough, I can’t write eloquently, I just don’t have it in me to gain my salvation. The brunt of responsibility doesn’t lie with me. It’s all on God.
The teams are Legalism verses Grace. Nicodemus was a home run hitter in the spiritual sense for team Legalism. He would bat clean up if it was up to his spiritual credentials. But it’s not. And that’s what Jesus was saying. “Your just not good enough, Nicodemus. You are the teacher of Israel, but that’s not going to gain you access into God’s kingdom.” Legalism looses. Team Grace wins because Jesus hits grand slams. Jesus was putting Nicodemus on the same level playing ground as the despised Romans who occupied his beloved homeland. No one can ever bat a thousand, and that’s what it takes to enter the kingdom of God.
No one but Jesus. Jesus bat a thousand. Jesus is our home run hitter. Jesus bats clean-up. The game of baseball was invented by Abner Doubleday, but grace is all of God’s invention. It was His idea, His work, and His expense.
Have you come to that conclusion yet? If you haven’t ask God to send you the Spirit of God so that you can understand these things. Ask God to open your mind so that you can understand how to be born again. Don’t try to walk. Don’t strike out with this truth. The game of baseball will fade away, as will the whole earth, but salvations’ truth must be understood. It is imperative that you become born again. Your eternal life depends on it. Let Jesus knock it out of the fences for you.