Jesus has a discussion with Nicodemus, one of the Pharisees. Nicodemus comes to Jesus by night (because he does not want to openly defy the other Pharisees who dislike Jesus) to seek out some wisdom.
You Must Be Born Again
Nicodemus starts by acknowledging that Jesus must have come from God because otherwise Jesus would not have been able to perform these signs. Jesus then talks about being born again.
Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.John 3:3
But the idea of being born again seemed preposterous to Nicodemus. You need to enter your mom’s tummy and come out a second time?
Jesus clarifies about being born again with the Spirit.
Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.John 3:5-6
When we first entered this world through our mother’s womb, we were born of the flesh. Jesus is saying that unless we are re-born with the Spirit, we cannot see the kingdom of God.
But Nicodemus still doesn’t understand. As a Pharisee, his training taught him to obey all the thousands of laws mentioned in the old testament. That’s what they believed to be the path to salvation. It must have been incredibly strict and stifling.
On the other hand, Jesus advocates a radical transformation. Instead of getting super technical into the old testament laws, He addresses the core issue: lack of faith.
Truly, truly, I say to you, we speak of what we know, and bear witness to what we have seen, but you do not receive our testimony. If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you heavenly things?John 3:11-12
Because Nicodemus is well-versed in the old testament, Jesus provides an old testament analogy.
And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.John 3:14-15
In Numbers 21:8, God has Moses create a fiery serpent and set it on a pole and those who are bitten by a snake will be healed simply by looking at it.
Sound familiar? This is foreshadowing Jesus being crucified on the cross (lifted up), and whoever sees Jesus on the cross (whoever believes) will be healed (have eternal life).
Keep in mind that we don’t need to physically see Jesus on the cross because that has already happened. The way we see is through our faith.
For God So Loved The World
And now, the moment we’ve been waiting for. One of the most famous verses in the Bible spoken by Jesus himself.
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.John 3:16
In context, this verse is an extension of verses 14-15. Our way of seeing Jesus on the cross is believing.
For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.John 3:17
Jesus clarifies that God has absolutely every right to destroy the world engulfed in its sin. But because He loves us so much, He chooses not to.
Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.John 3:18
And besides, those who don’t believe are already condemned anyway.
Then Jesus talks about the dark and the light, similar to in John chapter 1.
And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.John 3:19-21
The light that has come into the world is Jesus. Since Jesus is talking to Nicodemus, we infer that the people refers to the Pharisees. The Pharisees chose darkness over the light because their works were evil.
John the Baptist Exalts Christ
When John the Baptist’s disciples heard that Jesus was also baptizing, they brought that concern up to John. The disciples were probably worried that this Jesus person is taking away from John.
But John was not worried about this at all. John reminds his disciples that he is not the Christ, but that he has been sent before him. He makes the comparison that Jesus is the bridegroom, and he is a friend rejoicing for the bridegroom.
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