Coffee Stains: Big Brothers and NewbornsAuthor: David Porter
It’s always a slightly tense moment when the last child meets the new baby. The one who has been the apple of mama’s eye now has to scoot over and share the limelight with a new born. Sounds like the scenario for an alley fight–the old guy defends his turf from that soft newcomer with the sweet, innocent look.
Recently one of our grandsons got his baptism into little sisters. Josh has been center stage for nearly five years, all by his lonesome, and everyone wondered how he would react to his little sister. He acquitted himself rather well as he sat on mommy’s hospital bed and held the newborn. When he had enough, though, he told his parents, ‘Back in mommy’s tummy.’ Josh was simply expressing the desire of a lot of brothers through the ages (sisters, too). But there’s one little problem, it won’t work. Once they’re out there is no going back.
That’s why the old religious leader was so shocked when Jesus told him, ‘You must be born again.’ (John 3) ‘What, go back into my mother’s womb?’ the old man exclaimed. Jesus had a way of expressing himself that rattled people. But He was talking about a second birth. The first one came with the rush of mom’s water and a run to the hospital, the second one comes with a touch of God’s Spirit and a changed heart. The revolution in the second circumstance is just as radical as the shake-up in the first circumstance. The unborn baby spends most of his time sleeping, eating and getting bigger, and Bigger, and BIGGER. At the end of nine months his mother waddles like a duck with a back ache and spends more time groaning than talking. And the little parasite just sucks up all the good things she sends him to eat. Then suddenly our little prima donna is expelled into a harsh world. ‘What’s that light? And those funny creatures staring at me?’ Abruptly he’s lying on mama’s stomach and something seems vaguely familiar. It’s the outside of what he’s been inside of. But outside, everything is different.
It’s like that for those who are born of the Spirit. Before we live in a world where our desires are all that count. We follow our passions, or we comfort ourselves in our own goodness. Then Jesus comes and we see our sin and our need of a Savior. Something in us revolts and tries to shrivel back into our cocoon but Jesus challenges us to let Him change our center. And by faith in Him we say, ‘Yes! I believe you, Lord Jesus. I believe You died on the Cross of Calvary for my sins. I believe you rose from the grave the third day. I believe you’re at the right hand of the Father and You hear me right now. Forgive my sins. Save me. Make me right in your Father’s eyes.’ And he does it. It’s like being born again but this time it’s a miracle of the Holy Spirit that God works in your heart, that center that is you.
‘If any man be in Christ, he’s a new creature. Old things are passed away. All things have become new.’
You don’t go back into your mother’s womb. If you had gray hair and you were dumpy before you prayed, you’re still gray-haired and dumpy after your prayer. You may or may not have an explosion of good feelings, but if you pray like that in faith, Jesus says you are ‘born again,’–you’re in a new world. It’s a world where Jesus is Lord and we no longer live to please ourselves but to please the One who died for us. If you haven’t done it, why don’t you skip back up to the prayer which you read earlier in this Coffee Stain and pray it to God with all your heart. You can begin again, too. Today’s a good time to get a new start.
“Strong passions oppose strong consolations. By indulging ourselves in discontent and fretfulness, we deprive ourselves of the comfort we might have both from God’s word and from his providence, and must thank ourselves if we go comfortless.” Matthew Henry, commentary, Exodus 6.