Jesus Teaches Nicodemus
John 3:1-2 NIV - “Now there was a Pharisee, a man named Nicodemus who was a member of the Jewish ruling council. He came to Jesus at night and said, ‘Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the signs you are doing if God were not with him.’”
Arguably one of the most influential chapters in the Bible. Nicodemus starts it off by showing us who Jesus is. Like Nicodemus, we must examine Him for ourselves. If we believe He is who He says He is, then we must speak up for Him like we later see Nicodemus do in John 7.
John 3:3 NIV - “Jesus replied, ‘Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.’”
You likely do not remember the day you were brought into this world, the time you first opened your eyes. When you give your life to Christ and become “born again”, you will be able to live life with a new set of eyes. Scripture tells us God's Kingdom has already begun in the lives of those who believe, and after being born again you will be able to see that.
John 3:4 NIV - “‘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!’”
Spiritual rebirth is not a physical rebirth, we only get one shot at physical life. However, during this physical life we get the choice to be spiritually born again through the repentance of our sins and the devotion to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Our eternity lies on the balance of this decision.
John 3:5-7: “Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’”
Jesus responds to Nicodemus’ question explaining that by accepting Christ, we are born again. The Holy Spirit gives birth to a new life with Christ.
Many get hung up on this verse thinking that it means you must be baptized to be born again. Baptism is an outward symbol of accepting Christ into your life. Faith in Christ is the only requirement to being born again.
The step after that is being baptized as an outward symbol of giving your life to Christ.
John 3:8 NIV - “The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.””
We have all hunted on a cold and windy morning. We can’t see the wind but we sure can feel it. You also may know it’s windy outside by what you see from a window. If you’re inside, you can't feel its effect but you know it’s windy. The same applies to our faith. We may hear others talk about the Holy Spirit but one can’t truly feel it without becoming a believer in Christ. The Holy Spirit works in ways that we can’t see or understand, just like the wind.
John 3:9-11 NIV - ““How can this be?” Nicodemus asked. “You are Israel’s teacher,” said Jesus, “and do you not understand these things? Very truly I tell you, we speak of what we know, and we testify to what we have seen, but still you people do not accept our testimony.”
Nicodemus has a hard time understanding Jesus because he doesn't realize that knowledge and behavior aren’t enough to make him right with God. Being a genuinely “good” person doesn’t get you a ticket to heaven. Accepting Christ into your life is all it takes. That doesn’t mean we can use God’s grace and forgiveness as a crutch. The point is that we are all sinners in need of a savior and there’s nothing we can physically do to earn our salvation.
John 3:12 NIV - “I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things?”
Nicodemus, with a wealth of knowledge about the law from the OT, still can’t understand what it means to be born again. Jesus responds to Nicodemus with this verse. You can’t put your faith in something that you don’t understand. It takes an open heart and mind to understand the basics of Christianity before you’re able to grasp the complex ideas. If you’re quick to turn away from the Gospel, do you truly understand it?
John 3:13 NIV - “No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven - the Son of Man.”
Nicodemus thought his relationship with God was built on religious activity but it’s not. Every other religion teaches that it’s up to you and your works to go into Heaven. Jesus is saying to Nicodemus, I have come down to you.
We didn’t put any effort into our physical birth. The same applies to being born again or born of the Spirit. Jesus comes from Heaven on a rescue mission that leads to a relationship with God. The only thing we bring is the sin we need to be saved from.
John 3:14-15 NIV - “Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.””
Numbers 21:4-9 in the Old Testament lays out how the people of Israel rejected God and He sent snakes among them causing many to be bitten. The people went to Moses for help and God tells Moses to make an image of a snake, put it on a pole, and if they look at the snake, they will live. In the same way, Christ is “lifted up” on the cross and anyone that looks to Him will be saved. Once you’re bitten by a snake, there’s nothing you can do to save yourself. The reality is, we’re all bitten and need someone to heal us. Faith in Christ is the only way we can be healed.
John 3:16 NIV - “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
One of the most well-known verses lays out the Gospel. God loved the world so much that He came down from Heaven, in human form, to live a life free of sin, and died on a cross to pay the full price of our sin. He did this for whoever puts their faith and trust in Him. In other words, “God loved, so God gave. If you believe, then you receive eternal life. Your identity is not achieved, it is received.” - Joby Martin
John 3:17 NIV - “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.”
Jesus came for the purpose of saving. He did not come to condemn. He came to save people like you and I from the ways of this world. In fact, He came to save the world by whoever puts their faith in Him. The offer of salvation is to everyone. However, one must accept it in order to be saved.
John 3:18 NIV - “Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.”
We are all guilty of sin and deserve to be separated from God. However, out of God’s love for us, we can accept Jesus and that He paid for our sins on the cross. By putting our faith in Him, we become a child of God and are granted eternal life. Those who choose not to do so will not be able to find nor have eternal life ( Romans 3:23,6:23). It comes down to one question: What are you going to do with this man named Jesus Christ? Accept Him as Lord or deny Him, there is no in-between.
John 3:19 NIV - “This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil.”
“We are like eggs at present. And you cannot go on indefinitely being just an ordinary, decent egg. We must be hatched or go bad.” - C.S. Lewis You can either hatch and be transformed by what God calls you to be or choose not to and you will be condemned forever. The good news of The Gospel is that whoever believes will not perish but have everlasting, eternal life. This goes for anybody and everybody no matter what you’ve done.
John 3:20 NIV - “Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed.
As we’ve learned, light is an important symbol in the Bible. Light uncovers things and exposes sin. People don’t like to be exposed, we’re selfish and think we can handle everything ourselves and keep things inside. A life without God ultimately ends up hopeless, meaningless, and ends in disaster. Mark 8:36 says “What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?”. Without God, there’s no legitimate meaning to life, there’s no purpose.
John 3:21 NIV - “But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.”
We learned in verse 20 that hiding from God is an effort to keep our evil actions hidden. In contrast, this verse teaches us that a life in Christ is approved by God. Being born again through Christ as we learned in verse 5, gives us purpose and meaning in life. When we spend our life doing things that please God, so we don’t have to be ashamed. When we live by the truth, we can have peace and freedom that is only found in Jesus Christ.
John Testifies Again About Jesus
John 3:26 NIV - “They came to John and said to him, “Rabbi, that man who was with you on the other side of the Jordan—the one you testified about—look, he is baptizing, and everyone is going to him.””
Leading up to this, Jesus and his disciples were baptizing, and so was John (V.22-23). An argument came about between John’s disciples and a jew over purification (V.25). John’s disciples come to John and are jealous of Jesus’ ministry. They begin comparing themselves to Jesus. It’s our nature to seek our own glory instead of God’s. John doesn’t fall into the trap, but rather explains why this is his mission in following verses.
John 3:27-28 NIV - “To this John replied, “A person can receive only what is given them from heaven. You yourselves can testify that I said, ‘I am not the Messiah but am sent ahead of him.’”
Everything you have, God has given it to you. We’re so quick to fall into the comparison trap and look at what everyone else has. We look at relationships and things as if once we achieve them, then we’ll finally be satisfied. True contentment comes when we put our trust and faith in Jesus and realize that He has given us everything we have. John goes on to explain how the point of his life is to point people to Jesus. As believers, this should be the point of our lives too.
John 3:29 NIV - “The bride belongs to the bridegroom. The friend who attends the bridegroom waits and listens for him, and is full of joy when he hears the bridegroom’s voice. That joy is mine, and it is now complete.”
John paints this illustration to get across that the point of his life is to be the friend or groomsman. Jesus is the groom and the church is his bride. John doesn’t want to draw any attention to himself but rather point people to Jesus. John explains that his joy is found in other people following Christ, not himself. Why is it so hard for us to feel the same way? Does your life point people to you or does it point people to Jesus?
John 3:30 NIV - “He must become greater; I must become less.””
Humility is thinking of yourself in light of who Christ is. As we continue to follow Jesus, we need more of Him and less of us. The more we learn about who Jesus is, the more the view of ourselves gets smaller and smaller. We begin to truly see our sinful nature and how terrible we are. As we realize this, it becomes clear that the only thing that can bridge the gap between us and Jesus is what happened on the cross. He died to take away our sin.
John 3:31 NIV - “The one who comes from above is above all; the one who is from the earth belongs to the earth, and speaks as one from the earth. The one who comes from heaven is above all.”
John separates the kingdom that Jesus belongs to and the culture that we belong to. Our culture tells us that it’s all about us. We seek happiness in things that are temporary. In the kingdom of Heaven, joy is found. Jesus, above everyone else, should sit at the throne of our lives.
John 3:32-33 NIV - “He testifies to what he has seen and heard, but no one accepts his testimony. Whoever has accepted it has certified that God is truthful.”
Jesus is the only one that has come from heaven to earth. Because of that, He is the source of truth. Anyone who does not believe the common things that Jesus teaches, has no hope in understanding the spiritual things. In order for us to deepen our relationship with God, we have to be willing to learn who Jesus is. It’s easy to “believe in God”, but it takes accepting Jesus’ testimony, the truth, in order for us to spiritually grow.
John 3:34-35 NIV - “For the one whom God has sent speaks the words of God, for God gives the Spirit without limit. The Father loves the Son and has placed everything in his hands.”
Jesus is the authority over life and death, earth and Heaven, day and night. He brings to us God’s love and truth straight from the source. Since Jesus is the only complete and whole testament of knowledge about God, rejecting the Son is rejecting God. Take time today to thank God for sending His Son so that we may learn the truth.
John 3:36 NIV - “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on them.”
John very plainly writes over and over that Jesus is THE way to the Father. Over 40 times throughout the book he makes mention of this. When something is repeated in scripture, it means it is the main intent of the writer or speaker. John clearly needed each reader to know that Jesus is God, no ifs ands or buts. The only way to the Father is through His Son.