Ezekiel 36:24-27 (ESV) I will take you from the nations and gather you from all the countries and bring you into your own land. 25 I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. 26 And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.
John 3:5 (ESV) Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.
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My favorite scene is Jesus’ conversation with Nicodemus from the Gospel of John, chapter 3. It’s easy for me to miss Nicodemus’ sincere inquiry and the passion in his inquiry because of his spiritual blindness that is clearly beginning to break free because he comes to Jesus to inquire. I marvel at how spiritually blind he is….then I remember me until age 20. Same.
In Jesus’ answering of Nicodemus’ questions, he references a passage he gave to Ezekiel a few hundred years earlier when he was describing how he would raise up a valley of dry bones to show Ezekiel that God is able to raise up children for Abraham from even death.
In Ezekiel 36:25-27 the Lord tells how he will raise the dead to life…he will wash them with his water, give them a new heart, and give them his Spirit.
When Nicodemus is stumped by how a person is born again, Jesus calls on his word already preached, and proclaims his good news. Flesh can only produce flesh, but God, by his powerful work of salvation, causes people to be reborn…remade…reconstituted…from death to life by the powerful working of God who washes, remakes, and empowers.
How does God do that? He does it by sending Jesus, the eternal Son of God, the faithful Israel, and he obediently and joyfully comes (ADVENT), lives perfectly, dies in the place of rebels, is buried, rises on day 3, ascends back to the Father to return and receive his prepared people by gathering all who received him by faith.
Advent. We remember what God has done and by faith look forward to what he is going to do.