On Monday night I quoted this passage from Herman Ridderbos’ commentary on John 3:5-8. Here’s the passage:
5 Jesus answered, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ 8 The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit.”
Here’s the full section from Ridderbos:
Verse 8 focuses on the positive side of Jesus’ initial pronouncement and illumines it by means of the image of “wind.” Both Hebrew and Greek have one word for “wind” and “spirit,” and wind, in its power and effect, is a common image for the Spirit (as in Acts. 2:2 and Ecclesiates 11:5).
Wind is observable, but it goes sovereignly where it pleases and is untraceable in its origin and disappearance. Also free, mighty, and untraceable in its movements is the Spirit in a person who is born of the Spirit.
In all this the divine possibilities are set over against the impossibilities of humankind (“flesh”), not just negatively, but precisely to cause people to look away from their own (im)possibilities and toward God for their salvation.
For the freedom of the Spirit to go where he pleases is not capriciousness but power that nothing can hold back.
And the Spirit’s untraceability is not anonymous incalculability but possession of means that humans cannot have but are possible with God (as in Romans 11:33).
It is in that way, a way not only determined by God but now opened up by him, that humans become participants in that new existence and hence gain entrance into the kingdom, which in John 3:16 is called eternal life.