“There was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews” (John 3:1).
Some animals appear to give birth to their young more easily than others. One factor that makes labour more challenging is the size of the foetus relative to the mother. If a 140-pound animal gives birth to a seven-pound infant, the baby represents 5 percent of her body weight. But if a 1,000-pound horse gives birth to a 100-pound foal, the baby foal represents 10 percent of the mother’s weight. The larger the offspring, the more dangerous and complicated the birth.
Labour times for humans tend to be longer than for animals. Nine hours is an average labour time for first-time mothers, while a dog can give birth to a litter in about an hour. Cattle take about two or three hours and horses can give birth in just 30 minutes, but with great force. The gestation period for spotted hyenas is quite long and the birth often difficult. Human babies have much larger heads (in relation to the rest of their body) than other mammals, so passing through the birth canal is a more challenging process.
Jesus once told a respected teacher in Israel, “You must be born again” (John 3:7). Nicodemus was a wealthy, educated, and powerful religious leader who became interested in Christ after he saw Him clear the temple courts. But he didn’t want to risk embarrassment by meeting with the teacher publicly. So, he sought out the Saviour at night.
After briefly complimenting Jesus, the Lord spoke directly to the point. Jesus told the self-assured man that he needed to spiritually start from the beginning. Nicodemus had a lot of head knowledge about God but lacked a new heart. With great difficulty, he finally went through the new birth experience.
It is always a painful process to humble our hearts in true repentance and admit our helpless condition. But God is ready to deliver us into a new way of living.
Dear Father, I long to be born again and receive a new heart. Please renew me in Your image.
For Further Study: John 3:1–21; Ezekiel 36:26; 1 Peter 1:23