Have you ever wished for a “do-over?” What a great concept! If we’re living and breathing it is inevitable: we are going to do some things we wish we could “do-over.” Sometimes it’s the small things. We go to bed feeling far too full; we really wish we could back up and NOT eat that bowl of ice cream. We’re tired from work, and our emotions got the best of us, and we yelled at our kids; we’d like to rewind the evening and start over. Daily do-overs would be nice.
But how about “life do-overs?” Can you look back at the decisions you’ve made since you were old enough to exercise your conscious will and see a few regrets? Are there things you’d like to time-travel back to undo? Wouldn’t it be nice to take a different path and avoid some of the scars we’ve put on our minds, hearts, and bodies?
I thought about this while reading John 3. Nicodemus was a ruling Pharisee, holding a position of authority in the Sanhedrin. He’d heard and observed Jesus as He visited the Jewish synagogues and went from village to village, teaching with supernatural authority and healing with supernatural power. There was no question in his mind that Jesus had come from God, but he was trying to figure out exactly why. Unlike many of his fellow Pharisees, he had a humble heart; he was open to hearing and seeing what God might be up to in his generation. So, he approaches Jesus by night, protecting his position as a Pharisee, but determined to get some answers to the questions circulating in his heart and mind. He wasn’t ready to commit himself as a follower of Jesus, but was curious, seeking.
He doesn’t even really ask Jesus a question. He makes a simple statement, acknowledging that Jesus’ power obviously comes from God. Jesus knows the hearts of men and goes straight to the gospel that this seeking man needed to hear.
John 3:3 – Jesus answered and said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
This strange statement confuses Nicodemus. “How can a man be born again when he is old? He cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born, can he?” (3:4)
Jesus clarifies what He meant. He was offering the ultimate spiritual do-over: Unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter the kingdom of God. … You must be born again. (3:5,7)
Would you like to be born again? To start over? To have all your failures and mistakes and sinful choices erased? To have a “clean slate” when you wake up every single day, with nothing on your account but the righteousness of Christ?
Then you have to ask the same question Nicodemus did: How can these things be?
It’s not enough to know you need a do-over; you have to believe in what Jesus did to purchase it.
John 3:14-17 – As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up; so that whoever believes will in Him have eternal life. For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.
The only way we get the spiritual “do-over” that Jesus is talking about is to be born again by the Spirit, by faith alone in Christ alone. The wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23). If we are never born again, we will die in our sins and be judged for them. That doesn’t have to be. Jesus died in our place. When we believe in Him and repent of our sins, His righteousness is transferred to our account and our sins are placed on Him, paid for in full by His death as the perfect substitutionary sacrifice. We get a clean slate – a spiritual do-over.
While we still may suffer the residual effects of our former choices in this life, they will not affect eternity. And I can tell you from personal experience and from the many, many, many stories I know personally of others, God can and will restore and renew and heal all those things you want to “do-over.”
Do you need the ultimate “do-over?” Be like Nicodemus.
Come with an open mind, willing to believe what you see in Jesus.
When we see Nicodemus again, he is “all in” with Jesus, standing with His close followers and friends at the foot of the cross. He got his do-over. Have you?