Unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.
Finding connections with an ostracized declared-clean leper, we follow his path of rehabilitation in the presence of the Almighty and amidst the community. One of the last stages is immersion, commonly called in Greek: baptismo. Our sages have always understood ritual immersion as an illustration of being born-again. The whole idea was an illustration of returning into the maternal waters in order to be reborn. In a sense, this pronounced clean leper shaved from head to toe looked like a new-born baby and was going to immerse in baptismal/rebirth waters (Leviticus 14:9).
In ancient Israel, the idea of the born-again ritual immersion was used as a mode of proselytization, for people desiring to become Jewish. The idea is that they went in the water as gentiles and came out the other side reborn as Jewish, as ‘members of the commonwealth of Israel’ (Ephesians 2:12).
When Yeshua therefore tells Nicodemus, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God (John 3:3)," He actually tells the great teacher of Israel that unless he goes through a procedure of conversion to Judaism, he cannot be a part of the Kingdom of God. That explains the shocked teacher’s answer, ‘"How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother's womb and be born (John 3:4)?" By this he meant, ‘How can I convert to Judaism if I am already Jewish? To which Rabbi Yeshua wisely answers, Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit (John 3:5-6), or in other words, “It is not enough to be well bred; you must also have an immersion of repentance from sin!” This was the reoccurring theme in both John the Baptist and Yeshua’s teaching (Matthew 3:9-11).
Peter compares the Great Flood as a baptism of the whole earth, and Paul speaks of the crossing of the Red Sea as the baptism of Israel (1 Peter 3:20-21;1 Corinthians 10:2). We have to be reborn in order to enter God’s new world!
As the season of Passover approaches, as we think of our forefathers (biological or by adoption) crossing the Red Sea, may we also put away the old leaven of the old worldly culture. May we think of all the ways we can leave the ‘Egyptian’ behind and enter the Promised Land of His will and Kingdom as new reborn creations for His glory!