26. In this world, there are two "births" and two "deaths."

Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.” 
“How can someone be born when they are old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely they cannot enter a second time into their mother’s womb to be born!” {John 3:3-4}

When Jesus arrived, He began talking about a concept that the Israelites had apparently been either slow or unable to understand: being born again. When He mentioned it to the Pharisee Nicodemus in a conversation, Nicodemus reacted with surprise over the idea, although Jesus responded, “You are Israel’s teacher, and you don’t understand this?”

It's almost as if He was saying that our "first birth" really wasn't a birth—that it really wasn't what constitutes Life. And He later went on to deepen this concept by saying things like, "I came to give you Life—abundant life in all its fullness." As if just walking around on the planet with blood in our veins and breath in our lungs wasn't true Life.

Not long after He started talking about two "births," Jesus also started talking about two "deaths." He said things like, “Don’t fear those who can kill your body but not your soul. Fear the one who can destroy both body and soul.” It's almost as if He was saying that our "first death" really isn't what constitutes Death. As if being unconscious in the ground with a decaying body wasn't true Death.

As His ministry progressed, Jesus deepened this concept by never referring to people who had passed away as "dead," but "asleep." When He reached the house of Jairus' daughter after her heart had stopped beating and her breathing had ceased, Jesus looked at all the wailing mourners and said, "Why are you crying? She isn't Dead. She's only Sleeping." And then He went and woke her up. He also told His disciples He was going to "wake Lazarus up," after he'd already been in the grave four days.

This is why Jesus said you shouldn't be afraid of what we normally call "death." For it is not Death at all, but Sleep—a temporary condition that God is going to wake us up from. What you should fear is Death, which totally destroys you, body and soul. There is no waking up from that. 

What this means is that even though we have used the terms "birth" and "death" to describe our earthly life cycle, the "first birth" isn't really about Life, and the "first death" isn't really about Death. They are simply events over which we have no control. Nobody gets to choose whether they're born, and nobody gets a say in whether they will go to Sleep. You didn't ask to come into this world, and you don't have a choice about leaving it, either!

But everybody gets a say in whether they will enter into Life or Death—and these choices constitute what the Bible refers to as the "second birth" and "second death." If you want to enter into the true Life of the kingdom of God, you choose to be born. And if you do not want to enter into the true Life of the kingdom of God, you choose to Die.

You may have been born into this world, but only you can choose whether you will Live. And you will eventually go to Sleep and be buried, but only you can choose whether you will Die.

If you want to dig deeper—
Genesis 3:19
Ecclesiastes 2:16
Ecclesiastes 3:19-21
Matthew 10:28
John 3:1-15
John 17:3
Romans 6:23