Born Again

Posted by Roberta Grimes • November 04, 2023 • 18 Comments
Afterlife Research, Jesus, The Source, The Teachings of Jesus, Understanding Reality

I used to think that I could not go on.
And life was nothing but an awful song.
But now I know the meaning of true love!
I’m leaning on the everlasting arms.
If I can see it, then I can do it! If I just believe it, there’s nothing to it!
I believe I can fly! I believe I can touch the sky!
I think about it every night and day. Spread my wings and fly away.
I believe I can soar. I see me running through that open door!
I believe I can fly! I believe I can fly! I believe I can fly!
– R. Kelly, from “I Believe I Can Fly” (1996)

Jesus’s insistence that those who are wealthy and want to be His followers must first give away all their wealth feels impractical to most modern people, as we saw in our last week’s blog comments. True, building a reserve and having to manage it is a distraction from the crucial spiritual work that brought us into these earth-lives in the first place. But here are two important points:  

  • Life is more financially complicated in the twenty-first century than it was when Jesus was on earth. And having to live hand-to-mouth today would be a bigger spiritual distraction than it is for us just to live simple middle-class lives and keep a modest nest-egg in the bank.
  • When Jesus was on earth, He was familiar with things that His followers – and all of us – cannot even imagine. The givens of His life were so different from theirs, and they are very different from ours as well. Think about it! Jesus knew from His own personal experience that we are all glorious eternal beings. And He knew for certain that God is real!

That second point, especially, is huge. The Gospel passages on wealth include some of those places where it feels okay to sometimes mutter under our breath, “Easy for You to say, Jesus.” I have done some of that muttering myself.

Here below is Jesus’s most prominent Gospel encounter with a wealthy man who was eager to become Jesus’s follower. This is a famous section of the Gospel of Mark, so we ought to spend a few minutes on it:

17 As He was setting out on a journey, a man ran up to Him and knelt before Him, and asked Him, “Good Teacher, what shall I do so that I may inherit eternal life?” 18 But Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God alone. 19 You know the commandments: ‘Do not murder, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not give false testimony, Do not defraud, Honor your father and mother.’” 20 And he said to Him, “Teacher, I have kept all these things from my youth.” 21 Looking at him, Jesus showed love to him and said to him, “One thing you lack: go and sell all you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” 22 But he was deeply dismayed by these words, and he went away grieving; for he was one who owned much property.

23 And Jesus, looking around, *said to His disciples, “How hard it will be for those who are wealthy to enter the kingdom of God!” 24 And the disciples were amazed at His words. But Jesus responded again and said to them, “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! 25 It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” 26 And they were even more astonished, and said to Him, “Then who can be saved?” 27 Looking at them, Jesus said, “With people it is impossible, but not with God; for all things are possible with God.”

28 Peter began to say to Him, “Behold, we have left everything and have followed You.” 29 Jesus said, “Truly I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or farms, for My sake and for the gospel’s sake, 30 but that he will receive a hundred times as much now in the present age, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and farms, along with persecutions; and in the age to come, eternal life. 31 But many who are first will be last, and the last, first.” (MK 10:17-31)

Now let’s briefly consider this passage. As is true of many things that Jesus says, He is speaking just in this moment. But this is Jesus we are talking about! So each word He speaks is imbued for us with more import than He may have meant for it to carry. Let me show you what I mean: 

  • The rich man was using an honorific. And surely Jesus knew that. His calling Jesus “Good Teacher” was nevertheless seized upon and used as a teaching moment by Jesus when He announced that only God is good. Which likely embarrassed the poor guy.
  • Jesus calls it hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God. And this can be taken in either of two ways. Does God consider the ownership of wealth to be in itself a big sin that can bar someone from entering God’s kingdom? Or is the problem only that having wealth is a distraction that can make it harder for us to raise our consciousness vibrations while we are on earth? In fact, as we learned last week,  Jesus is talking only about the latter problem.
  • “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” This passage has been misused as a big teaching moment for the past two thousand years! So many Christian preachers have used it to insist that Jesus was saying that owning wealth is in itself sinful. But in fact, that is not the case at all. In Jesus’s day, there was a narrow gate into Jerusalem called The Needle’s Eye. It was so narrow that camels had to be unloaded before they could pass through it. What a wonderful analogy this was for Jesus to use when He wanted to explain that wealth is a distracting burden that makes spiritual growth harder unless we first shed that wealth. He likely used this analogy often!
  • All things are possible with God. This is Jesus’s simple, shortcut way of explaining what we now know to be true, which is that even though wealth can be a substantial spiritual distraction, so long as we are not allowing anything – and especially wealth – to distract us from the process of growing spiritually, then the healthy process of spiritual growth can proceed according to God’s plan for us, even if we are wealthy. Jesus says all these things in the simplest possible terms, so His first-millennium listeners can best understand them.
  • In the age to come, the first will be last, and the last, first. Here Jesus is speaking about the fact that in the afterlife, our spiritual status will be what matters, and that future status is very likely to be the direct opposite of what our status is on earth. Nevertheless, in what we think of from here as the afterlife and from there as our real life, there still is a strict rank order. And what is immensely endearing is the fact that Jesus, who far outranks everyone, wears no insignias of rank at all when He often ministers in the afterlife today.

Jesus seems not to have asked self-impoverishment of all of His followers. As His reputation grew, some high-ranking personages became the Lord’s friends, and He did not ask the most illustrious of them to give their wealth away. For example, the wealthy Joseph of Arimathea, who eventually gave his new-cut tomb for Jesus’s temporary burial, and also the chief Pharisee Nicodemus, who argued for Jesus in the Sanhedrin when He was arrested, and who brought a hundred Roman pounds of myrrh and aloes to anoint Jesus’s body for burial, were among His followers, even if Nicodemus seems to have felt the need to meet with Jesus under cover of night. Here is the very much misunderstood “born again” story in the Gospel of John, which features Nicodemus. Let’s listen to what Jesus really is saying here:

Now there was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews; this man came to Jesus at night and said to Him, “Rabbi, we know that You have come from God as a teacher; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him.” Jesus responded and said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless someone is born again (or from above), he cannot see the kingdom of God.”

Nicodemus said to Him, “How can a person be born when he is old? He cannot enter his mother’s womb a second time and be born, can he?” Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless someone is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which has been born of the flesh is flesh, and that which has been born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not be amazed that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ (or from above) The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it is coming from and where it is going; so is everyone who has been born of the Spirit.”

Nicodemus responded and said to Him, “How can these things be?” 10 Jesus answered and said to him, “You are the teacher of Israel, and yet you do not understand these things? 11 Truly, truly, I say to you, we speak of what we know and testify of what we have seen, and you people do not accept our testimony. 12 If I told you earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you heavenly things? 13 No one has ascended into heaven, except He who descended from heaven: the Son of Man. 14 And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, 15 so that everyone who believes in Him will have eternal life in Him.

16 “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish, but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but so that the world might be saved through Him. 18 The one who believes in Him is not judged; the one who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. 19 And this is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the Light; for their deeds were evil. 20 For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light, so that his deeds will not be exposed. 21 But the one who practices the truth comes to the Light, so that his deeds will be revealed as having been performed in God.” (JN 3:1-21)

This passage is the basis of the notion that some Christian denominations can change people’s status before God by designating them as having been “born again,” whatever that term might mean to each religious denomination. But actually, Jesus is talking here about something quite different. When the First Council of Nicaea in the year 325 CE was assembling the first Christian Bible, it removed every reference to reincarnation that it could find. Although it did miss a few. And this passage is actually about the form of physical rebirth on earth that we call reincarnation. Witness:

  • “You have come from God as a teacher”; and “the kingdom of God.” Note here that Jesus agrees with Nicodemus that He has come from God as a teacher. Not as a savior. And Jesus uses the term “the kingdom of God” an incredible fifty-one times through all four Gospels, and the term “the kingdom of heaven” – which means the same thing – in the Gospel of Matthew another twenty-five times. No other term is nearly so important to Jesus! He is here straight-up telling Nicodemus that He came from God to teach us how to more efficiently achieve the kingdom of God/heaven. Which was in fact His actual mission from God on earth.
  • “Unless someone is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” This is a frank reference to reincarnation, and to the fact that achieving the kingdom of God takes more than one earth-lifetime. Jesus’s repeated references to the kingdom of God or heaven are to the upper levels of the afterlife realities. We know now that people can achieve that exalted level at death once they have sufficiently raised their consciousness vibrations. For most people, that process requires many earth-lives of gradual spiritual growth, but Jesus’s natural predilection for loving people had enabled Him to achieve that level very quickly: He and my spirit guide have told me that Jesus achieved it about six thousand years ago. He then petitioned God to allow Him to be born again on earth from the Godhead so He could teach all of us how to achieve the kingdom of God as easily as Jesus had achieved it. Without Jesus’s teachings, people keep reincarnating repeatedly and cluelessly, perhaps hundreds of times, while making very little spiritual progress in each lifetime. Buddhists call suffering this long, blind process “turning on the wheel.” But Jesus’s teachings work so well in raising our consciousness vibrations that they enable God’s kingdom to be achieved in as little as a single lifetime.
  • “Born of water and the Spirit”; “born of flesh and the Spirit”.
    Here Jesus talks first about the process of natural birth, the gush of amniotic fluid and the fact that what is born is a spiritual being. He thus emphasizes the fact that He is talking about a physical and not just a metaphorical rebirth, of the sort that the churches imagine when they talk about the phrase “born again.” And then Jesus adds the fact that we need these earth-based lessons in order to grow spiritually, since that is the entire reason why our time on earth is necessary. Jesus’s teachings are specifically designed to elevate our consciousness vibrations as rapidly as possible.
  • “The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it is coming from and where it is going; so is everyone who has been born of the Spirit.” This sentence perplexes Nicodemus, and Jesus throws up His hands in exasperation. Jesus must be referring here to the between-lives period of preparation for a rapid return to earth that the researcher Michael Newton documents, and from which our loved ones often speak to us. Nothing else really fits.
  • “No one has ascended into heaven, except He who descended from heaven: the Son of Man. And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, so that everyone who believes in Him will have eternal life in Him.” In the penultimate paragraph here, Jesus tells Nicodemus the same story that Jesus and my Thomas told me in April of last year. Jesus ascended into heaven very quickly six thousand years ago, and then much later He descended from heaven as the Son of Man in order to teach us how each of us can achieve rapid spiritual growth, just as He had done. If we believe Him and follow His teachings, then we, too, will be lifted up and will join Him in eternal life. It really is precisely the same story! Seeing that Jesus told Nicodemus the same story two thousand years ago that He and Thomas told me just last year gives me gooseflesh whenever I think of it.
  • “Son of Man.” Jesus referred to Himself as the Son of Man before He began to accept the mantle of the long-promised Messiah. He uses that term more than eighty times through all four Gospels. In the ancient Hebrew religion, the Son of Man refers to a prototypical human being, with all his frailties; although Jesus seems to have used the term more to refer to Himself as an exemplary human being come to earth as God’s emissary. He was setting Himself lightly apart before He later specifically claimed the Messianic title and role.
  • “For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son…” That final paragraph is religious fluff-words that were probably added by the First Nicaean Councilors. Notice how differently it reads from the rest, full of soaring pontifications. It may well be based on things that Jesus said, but the Councilors added so much that whatever Jesus may have said here is now unrecognizable. This is always a risk when we are reading the Gospels, since after Jesus spoke His precious words, they then were passed down orally for sixty or more years before they were first written down. After that, they spent additional centuries in the hands of people who often had their own religious agendas before their earliest translations into modern languages first were made.

Still, we can be grateful that respect for the Lord’s words has been such that the Gospel words that were messed with were usually only at the ends of whichever passages people wanted to change. And reading these wonderful Gospel passages from a devoutly spiritual viewpoint, which in fact was the viewpoint that Jesus had when He first spoke them, feels so remarkable today! Best of all, it brings us closer to the extraordinary spiritual Teacher come to us directly from God that Jesus actually is.

See, I was on the verge of breaking down.
Sometimes silence can seem so loud.
There are miracles in life I must achieve.
But first I know it starts inside of me.
If I can see it, then I can be it! If I just believe it, there’s nothing to it!
I believe I can fly! I believe I can touch the sky!
I think about it every night and day. Spread wings and fly away!
I believe I can soar. I see me running through that open door!
I believe I can fly! I believe I can fly! I believe I can fly!
– R. Kelly, from “I Believe I Can Fly” (1996)

Roberta Grimes
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18 thoughts on “Born Again

  1. Powerful post, Roberta!
    I can only talk about my experience with money.
    It was a distraction. The anxiety about paying off my credit cards made me miserable.
    Now I am debt free and feel free. I don’t preach
    the value of getting money off my back. Could simply be my ineptitude dealing with money.
    But now I have a free, undistracted mind; Jesus is on my mind not as a compulsion but a choice.

    1. My sweet Erica, and you have written a powerful comment! It isn’t only having a lot of money that can be distracting, but being in debt can be terribly distracting as well. And now that you are fiancially free, look at how wonderfully you can concentrate your life to listening to and learning from Jesus!

  2. The “Son of Man” phrase used by Jesus is a direct reference to, and quote from, The Book of Enoch, the writing of which predates Jesus being on Earth by hundreds of years. Jesus quoted from other parts of that book as well.

    1. Yes, my dear Mark! Good pickup on your part. I didn’t say it again here, but I am fairly well convinced that Jesus did live and work as a slave for the first thirty years of His life on earth, and it was a credit to Joseph that he nevertheless treated Jesus as his oldest son and he gave Him a first-rate religious education. Jesus was freed at the age of thirty by law, but going from slave to Messiah was still a big step up and He was therefore careful to use the Son of Man designation until His ministry was very well established.

  3. Oh Roberta your postings give me such peace in being able to understand the Gospels in the way Jesus meant for them to be taught. Your messages and books have been an incredible help to me.

    Because I know you live your life in a way that you are not involved in current affairs and television I’m positive you’re not aware of the horrific crimes committed by R Kelly, the singer of those beautiful words of hope included in this weeks message. I believe in forgiveness, but he is viewed in a category as our once beloved Bill Cosby. It is off putting and painful for people who have been victims of abuse (mine by a deacon in the Southern Baptist Church when I was 12).

    I wanted to give you a “heads up” because I don’t believe you are aware of his situation now. Am so grateful for the good works you do that has helped to heal my spirit.

    Much love to you!

    1. Oh my dear Willie, I am so sorry for what happened to you, my beloved! And no, I have no idea who R. Kelly is. My Thomas generally chooses the frame verses. He tells me he finds them in my mind, but sometimes I don’t remember ever having heard them so I have to put the line that he is playing in my mind into Google to even find them. Then I Google the author to get the birth and death dates, but this fellow was still alive. Now that you mention it, Google said he was in prison, but Thomas didn’t care so neither did I.

      I assume you are saying that he sexually abused children? Which is the one crime, of all the possible crimes, that I simply cannot fathom. There is nothing more sexless than a child, and nothing you more instinctively crave to protect! How is it possible to harm a child that way? But I guess it does give us a kind of ultimate forgiveness lesson, doesn’t it?

  4. Hi Roberta,

    I am reading your blog with my Frankincense, electric resin burner on, LOL!!!

    THANK YOU SO MUCH for the explanation of being “born again”! I finally understand now what Jesus was talking about!

    It so sad that so many important things were omitted from the bible such as reincarnation that many Christians probably would not believe in your explanation because of the omitting of it.

    Many evangelical think it means to accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior and then to truly feel it from the spirit and then get re baptized again. As your first baptism did not take because as a baby we were all too young to make the choice.

    I truly hope and pray that one day the truth on being born again as you have so eloquently explain really becomes understood by all.

    1. Oh my dear Litsa, so many things that the churches believe can only make sense if you cherry-pick words here and there from what Jesus said, and you don’t try to understand the whole passages. As you see here!

  5. Imagine that Jesus talked in plain language and told his contemporaries that:
    1. You think that you are your body of flesh and bones, but that is a deception, because attached to your body is an eternal immaterial spirit whose home is God’s Heaven, from where you came, and where you will return when your body dies.
    2. You come to live on Earth to experience hardships that cannot exist in Heaven. These hardship provide opportunities for spiritual growth, such as developing courage, knidness, and the ability to love when you are in pain. Becase of your experience of hardships and pain in life here, when you return to Heaven you will then realize just how wonderful your eternal existence in Heaven is, and you will enjoy it, instead of taking it thoughtlessly for granted.

    So, Jesus talks in suggestive parables requiring considerable thought to realize their thruths. The sense of being rich is not having any worries, except retaining wealth and gaining more. With attention focused on wealth, life’s lessons to be learned from hardship are missing, so the purposes of living, to achieve spiritual growth and appreciation for the bliss of Heaven, are missed. Lives of ease, especially those focused on wealth, are wasted and reincarnation will thus be required.

    A good life is a hard life well lived.

    1. Hi Jack,

      It’s funny, because I’ve been thinking about excessive wealth and how it affects our growth here for quite awhile now. I’ve grappled for a long time with working towards “financial freedom” while also worrying what I may become if I receive too much freedom.

      I have come to believe (I think most here believes the same), that experiencing hardships can lead to spiritual awakenings. To seek meaning outside of the material world.

      My hypothesis is that for most people, a lot of wealth can lead to hardships. Not the same kind of hardships that normal people may experience.

      Limited resources can help save us from ourselves in many ways.

      The wealthy person, on the other hand, doesn’t have the same restrictions. They may forever be stuck within the confines of the material world. As those resources only benefit material things.

      I’ve seen enough kids of wealthy people self destruct. They are definitely going through hardships. I sometimes wonder if they continue to try and buy their way out of those hardships instead of looking towards more spiritual growth. The wealth defines them at this point.

      Even though I know the truth about why we are here, I am still afraid of what would happen to me if I became wealthy. I’d like to think I wouldn’t change but the threat is always there. Less restrictions, more free time and a ego that wanted to see me burn. A little scary!

      1. Dear Thomas, for much of my life I have been an advisor to the owners of small businesses, including of course helping them to plan for their retirements. And I always tell them that they are wealthy enough when they have a dollar more than what they are going to need. Ah, but figuring out what that will be is the real trick!

        1. Great way to look at it Roberta.

          Definitely can become a slippery slope. I found I don’t need much to be happy. Though I do have a love of tools that I need to be careful of. haha


    2. Oh my dear Jack, I love your last line! “A good life is a hard life well lived.” Just so. And Jesus may well have said more that just was not preserved, just as you suggest, but I tend to think not. He knew everything that we know now, and more, but He was speaking to such primitives! It was as if you or I went to some primitive island somewhere and tried to teach the natives there. He tried to make it very, very simple, always.

  6. Dearest Roberta,
    This is a great blog post. I love the bit about physical birth happening after the breaking of a mother’s waters. Then there is the second birth of Spirit. This reference to spiritual birth does make sense, as Jesus was all about transformation within. So much of His teaching encouraged becoming beings of perfect love, beyond just existing as chaotic, ill-considered humans. It fills so many of His parables, words and deeds.

    To me the wind that moves where it wishes, that you hear and do not know from whence it comes or where it goes, seems essentially mystical, other dimensional and non-corporeal. I mean you can see what happens in the physical birth of a baby, but what takes place by birth into Spirit, concerning Spirit realization, is hidden from our earthly understanding. The deep workings of inner transformation occur in unseen ways. They are beyond the rational, analytical human mind, thank Heavens!

    However I do take your point about the reference to a Spirit-based afterlife, and the planning and engaging in many earth incarnations. Makes sense. The ancient and esoteric Jewish tradition accepts reincarnation in any case. So people of Judea in Jesus’ time had a basic awareness of this process.

    And as to the difficulty of a rich person getting into the Kingdom of Heaven, I’ve enjoyed Thomas and your own explanation of how wealth (and the inevitable wealth-awareness of the affluent) can become a big obstacle to spiritual growth.

    I guess serious personal wealth can calcify the ego and lead individuals to believe they are better than others. Exclusivity is the hallmark habit of getting away from those people who are lower and poorer. (Of course, Duchess Lady Grantham of Downton Abbey fame comes to mind. 😉)

    The thing is Roberta, that becoming loving beings is true transformation; Empathy is love’s understanding enacted by reaching out to others. Empathy can move mountains because it comes from the greatest power of all, that is love.

    And I’ve noticed that serious wealth retards the gaining of empathy. It dulls the awareness of others as full, valuable and precious human beings. You know I’ve not met a rich person that really understands what financial struggle is for a person who has to endure it. Mentally someone may understand having to forgoe meals, medicine or clothing purchases, but the keen feeling of another’s ongoing hardship is missing. The acute feeling for others as full, three dimensional, meaningful, equal souls is often lacking in many rich people. So I’ve noticed.

    Conversely when such a person suffers a tragedy or illness or falls from financial grace, then hardship and suffering may see them begin to feel what others endure daily. Only then does empathy begin to dawn. Only then is the link between ‘self’ and ‘other’ truly made.

    No wonder Our Jesus wished us to deemphasize and steer clear of wealth accumulation.

    1. Oh my beloved Efrem, I share your joy in these wonderful passages! And your sense as to why Jesus was so bothered by wealth. And He really was bothered by it, as if its possession were a personal and moral failing. My Thomas feels that way as well. But Jesus, when He sent His disciples out to spread His Gospel, actually wanted them to live off the people and not to own anything. It was as if He thought that owning anything at all was a spiritual poison.

  7. Dear Roberta. Hi everyone. Some translations add “begotten “ when saying God gave “his” only son. In fact a second son of God is named in Luke. This is just an amusing little trivia thing to me. I’m glad you think of it as added fluff.
    Great explanation of what it really means to be “born again “!

    1. My dear Ray, I think the more traditional religious version of the Gospels prefers to include “begotten,” since that word emphasizes that God, and not Joseph, is Jesus’s blood father. The more modern English translations don’t seem to include that word. To me, it doesn’t matter. We are all God’s children, anyway!

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