In the name of the Father and of the +Son and of the Holy Spirit, Amen.
When He does this to you He has made you Spirit. Born from out of water and Spirit. You are no longer fleshly, no longer worldly, no longer part of this world and its insanity. You are now part of God, part of His mind blowing presence in the world, part of His plot to take over everything, to change all things, to bring new life, His life, His Spirit into you. You are of His Spirit. His Spirit is in you. For His Word is in you.
You see, He created all things right and good. There was no death, no cancer, no evil eating you up from inside, no sin inherited from your parents. All was good. All was life. But that creeping evil got into the world through our first parents’ sin. It has infected everything. Its seed is always there. Even when you pluck the weeds out of your soul. Even when you mortify your flesh by denying yourself the things you want. Even when you practice self-control and self-discipline. Even when you take your thoughts captive to Christ to His will and His ways. Even then that seed of sin is there: creeping, growing, infecting everything.
Ponder the nicely weeded garden. Free of weeds. How long will it stay that way? Dandelion seeds will float down on it. Seeds of other weeds are already present. Left on its own weeds will grow up and choke out the good seeds you’ve planted, leaving an ever increasing weed patch. No garden, no soul, no one will be free of this weedy seed of sin. Even if you could lock yourself up in a monastery away from all evil temptations on TV, in books, anywhere. Even there you will still have evil thoughts, desires, words and actions. In your isolation from the world the habits of those you are locked away with will drive you crazy. And even if you should retreat to the woods and live by yourself you’ll still be angry at the world for driving you to such extremes and you’ll still desire the things of the world. For the seed of sin is so deeply planted in you, so utterly filling you, that you can’t be free of it on earth. Sin lives in you. You are a sinner.
But if you are born from above, born from the Spirit of heaven—not a literal birth through your mother’s womb, but a birth through the womb of the Bride of Christ, through water and Spirit, through the birth process of the Church: Holy Baptism—you are no longer of the world. You are of the Spirit of God. You are no longer fleshly, but spiritual. No longer worldly, but godly. Sin still lives in you. It will be there til you die. But something better is in you. The Spirit of God.
Then more word games from Our Lord. Wind and spirit are the same word in the original languages of the Bible. Our Lord says, “That which is born of spirit is spirit.” If you are born of the Church you are of the Church. If you are born of God you are of God. The Spirit gives birth to spirit. Then the Lord says, “In the same way you hear the voice of the wind but you know nothing of where it comes from or where it is going to. Those born of the Spirit are the same.” Not that we are rolling stones, drifters, grifters, or tumble weeds blowing through this world, but that those who are not of the Spirit—not born of God, not born from above—know nothing of that which is from the Spirit. They may hear the voice of God. They may hear His words being spoken by His Church, but they don’t get them. For they have not yet received the birth of water and the Spirit. They are not of the Spirit. You see, Holy Baptism is not only a birth through the womb of the Church into the life of God in the world which is His Church, but it imparts the ability to understand God’s Word. When you are born of the Spirit you hear His Voice and know it, recognize it, understand it. Those born from above by Holy Baptism get it. They believe it. They hear the voice of the wind and know where it came from. They know where it is going for their life came from above, from God and they are going to Him. Those not born of Holy Baptism do not get it. Not unless the Spirit should also enable them to believe these things through a secondary means: the Word. The Word also imparts the Spirit of God, making what is of the flesh spiritual.
You see, being spiritual is not a matter of actions. You can’t know what is of the Spirit by actions. For you know not where the Spirit comes from or where it goes. The unspiritual can’t recognize the Spirit’s actions. And to further confuse the matter even those of the Spirit still sin. The seed of sin is still strong within them. But despite their actions, the spiritual know where they come from, they know where they are going. Their minds have been blown along by the Spirit. Their birth comes from God, their life goes to God in death.
And just to add a twist to all this word play: not only is Spirit and wind the same word in the original languages the Bible was written in, but spirit/wind is also the same word as breath! Thus, where do our lives come from? From God? For when Adam became a living being when He was formed out of dust where did His life come from? From God the Father. From God’s spirit, His breath of life blowing into Adam’s clay. But Adam the Man, the living being brought decay, a return to the dust, upon Himself and all who are descended from him. For when he sinned he sowed the seed of sin into all who would come from His body and flesh. He sowed it in our genetics. So our bodies fall apart and return to the dead dust. More than that, we are spiritually dead, lifeless clay not able to be reborn, not able to contain the breath of life. Thus that which is of the flesh, is dying, dead clay. We are not spirit, not the breath of life. From dust we came and in Adam to dust we shall return.
But Christ the second man has come. He was sent by the Father to breath new life, new spirit into all flesh. Christ the second Adam is our Lord of life. He imparts His Spirit, His breath, for when He breathed His last breath on the cross and gave up His Spirit, His breath of life became a roaring wind of life blowing into the world, giving new life, birth from above. Not a second birth through your mother’s womb of flesh, but new life birthed of water and the Spirit through the Church’s womb of Holy Baptism.
Holy Baptism only has such power because the Father loved the world in this way that He sent His only true born Son, the apple of His eye, His pride and joy, His boy, to be lifted up on a tree. He did this in order to find what was lost: our life with God. He did it to restore the face to face walking in the garden that Adam and Eve had in paradise with the Lord during the cool winds of the day. That’s the new life that begins in you by the Spirit’s rebirth of you in Holy Baptism. So all three persons of the Holy Trinity work to save you. For that was the Father’s desire from the beginning: to find you, to save you, to give you new life, not to condemn, judge, or cut you off from Himself, but to graft you into His life-giving vine, to give you life in paradise with Him.
In +Jesus’ name, Amen.
—Pastor David Haberstock
Epiphany Lutheran Church
Thunder Bay, ON