You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.
The Celtic Christians saw the glory of God revealed throughout nature and took symbols from what they saw. They watched in wide-eyed amazement An Geadh-Glas, or “the wild goose”, and made it their symbol for the Holy Spirit. The wild goose flying high over their heads embodied the Holy Spirit as free, untamable, and untrackable. They saw that the Spirit would not be contained. He was mystery uncontrolled.
They experienced the life of the Spirit as a wild goose chase. They knew that God had drawn them into mystery and adventure beyond their understanding. Just like the wild goose, they never knew where the Spirit of God came from or where He was going. They knew they could not track Him, predict His goings, or tame Him. He was free!
In today’s Scripture text our Lord Jesus also looks at nature but sees there the wind as embodying the Spirit of God. He saw the wind as being just like the Spirit of God as it moves mysteriously free, powerful, and unpredictable. Jesus’ words evidently came as news to Nicodemus, a “leader” and “teacher of Israel” (John 3:1,10), who had come to Jesus by night for a secret meeting. Evidently, this great religious teacher of his day thought he had God all figured out and confined to his tidy theological systems. But as the evening wind wafted across their housetop conversation, Jesus pointed Nicodemus to the mystery we call God.
Jesus must have rocked this religious celebrity right back on his heels when He told him, “You must be born again.” Then immediately Jesus starts talking to Nicodemus about wind and how no one can control it or predict where it will blow. The wind is all beyond our control or our figuring out. This tells us the nature of Nicodemus’ problem. He was a theologian who thought he had God figured out and had his relationship with God all under control. He went faithfully to synagogue, offered sacrifices, and did his Pharisaical best to keep all the laws. But Jesus knew Nicodemus needed to let the Spirit blow in his life.
Jesus’ words, “You must be born again” are often used in evangelistic appeals. There is nothing wrong with that, but we must look at the context of Jesus’ words and see how they have a much more profound meaning for all who would follow Jesus. Jesus is saying that just as we cannot tame or predict the wind, so we cannot tame or predict the mystery of how God’s Spirit will move. He is like the wild goose that we cannot contain, control, or track.
Sometimes I like to think that I have God figured out. But I don’t! And sometimes I think I have figured out what God is calling me to be, or asking me to do. But I don’t!
What would happen if you and I let ourselves be vulnerable to God’s untamed wind? What would happen if we let the wind of the Spirit sweep over us without any directions from us? What would happen if we let the wild, uncontrolled, unpredictable Mystery we call God be bigger than our conceptions of Him?
Imagine the adventure and joy of being in the tailwind of the Spirit! “So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”
Grace and peace,
photo by nosha