Was Jesus born into the kingdom of God? If so, what does it tell us about the person of Jesus?
Nicodemus was a member of the Pharisees and a ruler among the Jews who recognized that Jesus was a teacher who had come from God.
Something that was also known by several of the Jewish leaders, which led Nicodemus to admit that the miracles they had witnessed could not have been done by Jesus except “God be with him,” even though Nicodemus did not understand that God was in Jesus by the spirit of God.
Prompting Jesus to say that “except a man be born again [anew], he cannot see the kingdom of God” (Jn. 3:3).
This was, undoubtedly, a curious statement for Nicodemus considering the physical impossibility of what Jesus was saying, which at face value was interpreted by Nicodemus to mean that a person would need to be rebirthed by his or her mother to be “born again” into the kingdom of God. Which was certainly not the meaning Jesus had in mind, but nonetheless the meaning should have been somewhat apparent to Nicodemus because he and some of the Pharisees, among others, were aware of the teachings of John the Baptist, who preached the doctrines of repentance and baptism and the gospel of the coming kingdom of God.
Which brings us to this question.
Was Jesus himself born again?
Now according to the records of Luke and Matthew we have a genealogical reckoning for Jesus in the lineage of the patriarch Abraham, and according to the Apostle Peter we see that Jesus was also “a man approved of God” by miracles and wonders, which in some ways was apparent to the Jewish leaders, particularly Nicodemus (Acts 2:22-24). But the Pharisees and Jewish leaders did not recognize that God was in Christ even though Jesus had told them that his authority to speak of eternal life came from God, because Jesus had said that he was: “a man that hath told you the truth, which I have heard of God” (Jn. 8:40; 58). [Author’s emphasis throughout.]
So, it was apparent that Jesus was observed to be human and his human origin—as the firstborn son of Mary—came about by the power of the spirit of God. For Mary was told that she: “shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name Jesus: for he shall save his people from their sins. Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us” (Mt. 1:21-23). (The word “Emmanuel” is a term applied to the name of Jesus, meaning that Jesus himself is not God, but it is what would be said about the name and person of Jesus because God was in Christ (Isa. 9:6).)
Thus, we are able to conclude that Jesus was born human, and this was affirmed in Luke’s account when he wrote that Mary: “brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn” (Lk. 2:7).
Which accounts for the human origin and birth of Jesus.
Who was the firstborn son of Mary.
Which brings us back to what Jesus said to Nicodemus, when he said: “That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again” (Jn. 3:6-7).
So, with this in mind we can say that Jesus was “born of the flesh” as the firstborn son of Mary, and therefore we can conclude that Jesus was indeed a complete human being with the “spirit of man” that distinguished his own personal intellect apart from God the Father. And we know that Jesus had a human spirit—a human mind—because of what he said before dying on the cross, when he said: “Father, ‘into Your hands I commit My spirit.’ And saying this, He breathed out the spirit” (Lk. 23:46, LITV).
Thus, because God did preserve Jesus’ spirit and returned it to him when Jesus was resurrected from the dead, it was possible for Peter to say that the soul [mind, spirit, being] of Jesus “was not left in hell” (Acts 2:31). (See also, Lk. 24:19, 39.)
Now, after Jesus was baptized by the prophet John he was begotten of the holy spirit, and by this spirit he became an heir to the kingdom that was prepared for him by God the Father (Rom. 8:16-17).
However, Jesus was not yet “born of the spirit,” because Jesus said “that which is born of the Spirit is spirit,” which is to say that at the time of Jesus’ baptism he had not yet been born of God into the kingdom of God (Lk. 24:39). But after the resurrection from the dead we see that Jesus became the firstborn from the dead, and also the “beginning” of those who would be a type of “firstfruits,” and when Jesus was “born of the spirit” he was placed at the right hand of God to act as a mediator between God and humankind, and because he was the beginning of the first fruits of a new creation he was another Adam.
For Paul wrote that Jesus became: “the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning [origin], the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence” (Col. 1:18). Noting also that Jesus would be the firstborn of “many brethren,” and as the Apostle Paul acknowledged in his time: “now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept. For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ [the “last Adam”] shall all be made alive” (I Cor. 15:20-22). (See also, Jn. 1:12-13; Rom. 8:29.)
Which tells us that Jesus was born into the kingdom of God.
Allowing us to conclude that Jesus was “born of the flesh” as the firstborn son of Mary, and by the resurrection of the dead, Jesus became the first of the “firstfruits,” being the first to be “born of the spirit,” which allows us to say that when Jesus was born from God—“born from above”—into the kingdom of God he was indeed “born again,” becoming the beginning of the spiritual family of God (Jn. 3:3; I Pt. 1:3-5; 23-25; I Jn. 5:18). For we can say based on the biblical record that Jesus was stated to be the “firstborn son” of Mary, and we can also say that Jesus was also determined–in advance of his physical birth–to become the “firstborn among many brethren (Mt. 1:25; Rom. 8:29).