Jesus Teaches About our New Life: Bible Survey for New Christians

March 17th, 2009

John 3

Summary:
Christ teaches Nicodemus the necessity of regeneration,
of faith in his death,
the great love of God towards the world,
and the condemnation for unbelief.
Jesus baptizes in Judea.
The baptism, witness, and doctrine of John concerning Christ.

 3:1.  There was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews.
 3:2.  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.''
 3:3.  Jesus answered and said to him, "Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.''
 3:4.  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?''
 3:5.  Jesus answered, "Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.
 3:6.  "That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.
 3:7.  "Do not marvel that I said to you, `You must be born again.'
 3:8.  "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.''
 3:9.  Nicodemus answered and said to Him, "How can these things be?''
 3:10.  Jesus answered and said to him, "Are you the teacher of Israel, and do not know these things?
 3:11.  "Most assuredly, I say to you, We speak what We know and testify what We have seen, and you do not receive Our witness.
 3:12.  "If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you heavenly things?
 3:13.  "No one has ascended to heaven but He who came down from heaven, that is, the Son of Man who is in heaven.

 3:14.  "And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up,
 3:15.  "that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.

 3:16.  "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.
 3:17.  "For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.

 3:18.  "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.
 3:19.  "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.
 3:20.  "For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed.
 3:21.  "But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God.''

 3:22.  After these things Jesus and His disciples came into the land of Judea, and there He remained with them and baptized.

 3:23.  Now John also was baptizing in Aenon near Salim, because there was much water there. And they came and were baptized.
 3:24.  For John had not yet been thrown into prison.
 3:25.  Then there arose a dispute between some of John's disciples and the Jews about purification.
 3:26.  And they came to John and said to him, "Rabbi, He who was with you beyond the Jordan, to whom you have testified behold, He is baptizing, and all are coming to Him!''
 3:27.  John answered and said, "A man can receive nothing unless it has been given to him from heaven.
 3:28.  "You yourselves bear me witness, that I said, `I am not the Christ,' but, `I have been sent before Him.'
 3:29.  "He who has the bride is the bridegroom; but the friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly because of the bridegroom's voice. Therefore this joy of mine is fulfilled.
 3:30.  "He must increase, but I must decrease.
 3:31.  "He who comes from above is above all; he who is of the earth is earthly and speaks of the earth. He who comes from heaven is above all.
 3:32.  "And what He has seen and heard, that He testifies; and no one receives His testimony.
 3:33.  "He who has received His testimony has certified that God is true.
 3:34.  "For He whom God has sent speaks the words of God, for God does not give the Spirit by measure.
 3:35.  "The Father loves the Son, and has given all things into His hand.
 3:36.  "He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.''

Comments:

Nicodemus. One of the Jewish leaders. He came to Jesus privately. He made a step to break out of the religious peer pressure and conformity. Despite what the Scribes and Pharisees might be saying in public about Jesus, they knew that he was a teacher with special insight. They probably were having big trouble trying to figure out if Jesus is for eal.

Jesus layed it on him and introduced the concept of a spiritual birth. Nicodemus had some trouble at first. Clearly the spiritual birth is the more important birth. The words of the law have a physical meaning, but also a deeper, spiritual truth. Nicodemus, and the rest, could see the physical nature, the cause and affect of the law. Nobody had ever considered the question of what does it really mean?

Jesus describes unseen spiritual forces that we know are there, we see the affects, there seems to be nothing, but there is a hidden power. The words in the books of the old laws are like that. There are some obvious causes and affect things that are defined that lead to a negative outcome, judgement. It takes reading between the lines, but a parallel spiritual alternative can be found.

The law describes actions that we do and defines them as bad or good. Policemen can arrest someone for committing a crime, an infraction of somebody crossing the line of one of the known laws. For a policeman to arrest someone to prevent a crime gets into the realm of harrassment. Spiritual law is one where the underlaying motivation is just as bad. If I were to swipe a pack of gum, I could quite obviously apprehended, judged and convicted on the evidence that I did something wrong. If i had the desire,then let's say a store detective, or some official came around, and I knew that suddenly I couldn't swipe the gum withouth being caught on the spot. I was prevented from acting out a sin against a law. However, that motive was still there. I still had the desire. If only the situation that held me back hadn't been there I would have done it. That is what spiritual law is like, controling our unseen thoughts and desires. In simplistic, idealistic language: let the spirit take control and there will be no act that can be called a sin.

Jesus goes on to compare himself to an event where Moses lifted a serpent over the people as a symbol and for healing. He tells of God's motivation for sending Jesus, because God loves us. Jesus isn't here to point fingers and place blame, he is here to help us, to save us.

Our sins, as listed in the law, condemns us. He came to take away that condemnation and reclaim us to return to our place in his kingdom. All that is required is to recognize Jesus for the person he says he is. He is God's light, sent to the world. To remain in darkness, and prefer it, is what separates us.

The rest of the passage talks about both Jesus and John baptizing and gaining converts. As more people began to leave John and flock to Jesus, some followers were concerned.

John knew his place, and what his mission was. God had told him. He was the messenger to tell about the coming Messiah. To be a success is to be doing what God wants us to do.

As any of us grow followers, like John we need to keep in mind that it is really Jesus who is the true focus, and way into the kingdom. If the ministry we are working in doesn't  send people to him, it could be time for a reality check. It's OK to be like a Scribe or Pharisee and study the words in the Bible. Just go a step beyond that, and like Nicodemus, seek the real truth. Seek to live a spiritual life. Stand in the true, spiritual light of Jesus and be part of his kingdom.

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