Today I want to share some insights from the third chapter of John. John 3:16 is the first scripture I remember memorizing and I’ve often heard the story of Nicodemus, but never really spent any time in this chapter to connect the whole story. Notice, chapter 4 tells of the wedding in Cana of Galilee where Jesus did His first public miracle.
The New Birth
John 3:1 There was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. 2 This man came to Jesus by night and said to Him, “Rabbi, we know that You are a teacher come from God; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him.”
So Nicodemus came to Jesus at night, fearful he’d be found speaking with “the enemy” by the other Jewish rulers; fearful of punishment that could be as light as losing his leadership position or as heavy as being stoned to death. He admits Jesus must be a teacher come from God, but it’s too far a stretch for his mind to conceive of him as Messiah.
3 Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
4 Nicodemus said to Him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?”
This is another big stretch of Nicodemus’ understanding, this phrase “born again”.
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.”
Jesus is introducing one of the Holy Spirit’s main functions in this passage. This makes a clear distinction between the characteristics of human flesh and that flesh that is re-born of the Spirit.
9 Nicodemus answered and said to Him, “How can these things be?”
Nicodemus was well-versed in the Law and Prophets, having been a Torah student from a young age, having served in the Synagogue leadership and taught others for a number of years by now. But, Jesus points out that his knowledge blinds him from the wisdom in God’s Word.
10 Jesus answered and said to him, “Are you the teacher of Israel, and do not know these things? 11 Most assuredly, I say to you, We speak what We know and testify what We have seen, and you do not receive our witness. 12 If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you heavenly things? 13 No one has ascended to heaven but He who came down from heaven, that is, the Son of Man who is in heaven. 14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, 15 that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. 16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. 17 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.
This section uses eternal life v.15, everlasting life v.16. Looking at John 10:10 Jesus again speaks of the life He came to give: life and life more abundantly (Zoe life). This chapter makes plain the fact that life eternal comes from God through Christ and no other way. Notice, Jesus is already proclaiming how he would die (v.14).
18 “He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. 19 And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. 20 For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. 21 But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God.”