The Wind Bloweth Where It Listeth Jn 3:8 CLICK TITLE FOR AUDIO
In Jn 3:8, immediately after Jesus told Nicodemus that he must be born again, he said, The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit. When you think about that statement in the context of the verses about the new birth, it seems so out of place.
However, Nicodemus was a master in Israel [Jn 3:10; Matt 23:8-10] and, therefore, Jesus implied that he should have been able to put the references to the new birth and the wind together. Today, we are going to study why Jesus said that the wind bloweth where it listeth when he was teaching Nicodemus about being born again.
Spiritual birth is mandatory – Jesus told Nicodemus, ye must be born again – the reason is that when Adam and Eve sinned they died spiritually [Gen 2:17; Eph 2:1] and this spiritual death requires a spiritual birth – without a spiritual birth people not only die physically when their life expires [Rom 5:12] but they also die eternally when they are judged [Rev 20:11-15] – this death is called the second death [Rev 21:8] by which they spend eternity in the lake of fire – yet if you are born again, after you die physically, you keep on living spiritually [2 Cor 5:8] and eventually you get a glorified body in which you live forever [Phil 3:21].
Spiritual birth is by the Spirit – The only way to be born again is by the Spirit of God – that which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit – so there is nothing that can be done in the flesh alone that can bring about the new birth – water baptism, church membership, religious affiliation, circumcision, keeping the law and so forth are all incapable of making you born again.
Spiritual birth is likened to wind blowing – according to our text, a person who is born of the Spirit is like the wind blowing – you can hear the sound of it but you can’t tell where it came from or where it’s going – when you are sailing on the sea, one boat can be in a stiff breeze and within 2 or 3 miles another boat might be in a calm – the wind may be blowing in one direction and suddenly shift anywhere from several degrees to an entire 180 degrees – that’s the way the Spirit is.
Spiritual birth and wind blowing are connected – and now we come to the subject of the connection between the new birth and the wind – in three very important places in the Bible you see wind or breath referring to the Spirit – and from the two Old Testament references Nicodemus should have been able to “see” what Jesus was talking about – we see wind or breath and spiritual life or “birth” connected:
- At Adam’s creation in Gen 2:7 – God breathed into his nostrils the breath of life and man became a living soul – when God breathed his Spirit into Adam, he came to life.
- At Israel’s resurrection in Ezek 37:1-14 – when the dried bones had come together with sinews and flesh, they could not live until God caused his breath to enter into them – in v.9 the Lord said, “Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe upon these slain, that they may live” – in v.14 he said, I “shall put my spirit in you, and ye shall live” – they live when God breathes his Spirit into them and his breath comes from the four winds.
- At Pentecost in Acts 2:1-4 – the initial evidence that the Spirit had arrived on Pentecost was “a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind” – after he came men could be born again – three thousand were saved in Acts 2:41.
Spiritual birth is initially a reference to the salvation of Israel – Jesus said that he had not come but for the lost sheep of the house of Israel – he tells the woman at the well that salvation is of the Jews – God promised a new covenant with Israel in Jer 31:31-34 – so, for the saints in Israel to participate in this covenant there has to be a resurrection from the dead [Ezek 37:1-14, notice the reference to David in v.24] not only for Israel but also for the Lord Jesus Christ – for there to be life in these resurrected bodies, there has to be spiritual birth by the Spirit of God – at this spiritual birth Israel is born again – notice that Israel had its first birth in Ex 4:22 where Israel, in the covenant with Moses, is the firstborn son – and Israel is born again at its resurrection following the return of Jesus Christ in Is 66:7-9, at which time Israel enters its new covenant with God [Heb 8:8-13] and all Israel shall be saved [Rom 11:25-27] – Nicodemus could have put this together.
Spiritual birth in the meantime takes place the moment you receive Jesus – Jn 3:8 – just like individual Jews were given life in Num 21:8 for looking at the brass serpent so individuals are given eternal life when they believe on the Lord Jesus Christ who died on the cross for us [Jn 3:14-15] – every individual who receives the Lord Jesus Christ, whether Jew or Gentile, is born of God and becomes a child of God [Jn 1:12-13] – thus, we are born again the moment we believe [Jn 3:16] – yet you and I don’t hear or feel the wind when we are born of the Spirit – the wind was already heard once at Pentecost and that wind won’t be heard again until the salvation of the nation of Israel in Ezek 37.
Conclusion: when Jesus told Nicodemus that the Spirit likened to wind is involved in the new birth, he could have put Ezek 37:1-14 together with Is 66:7-9 and realized that as Israel will experience its rebirth so individuals who are spiritually dead due to Adam’s spiritual death in Gen 3 can be born again by the same Spirit – certainly when he heard the sound as of a mighty rushing wind in Acts 2 it all came together for him.