11 October 2016

BSF 2016-2017: John 3

Nicodemus was a Pharisee and a member of the Jewish ruling council. He approached Jesus at night. Why? Perhaps he wanted an uninterrupted conversation with Jesus.

Nicodemus went to Jesus out of curiosity. Jesus knew Nicodemus’ heart. He knew that Nicodemus was coming to Him to find out if He is the Messiah. Jesus told Nicodemus that no one can see (understand) the kingdom of God unless they are born again. Nicodemus thought first of physical rebirth and how impossible that is. But Jesus was speaking of spiritual rebirth.

Jesus said that no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of the water and of the Spirit. To be born of the water is to be born of the Word of God (it cleanses you). To be born of the Spirit refers to the Holy Spirit.

Everyone is born spiritually dead and separated from God because we are born into sin. Regeneration is the Holy Spirit’s work in a person, resulting in being born again spiritually. The Holy Spirit puts eternal life into the believing person. Regeneration happens once, in an instant. Regeneration brings people into God’s family and into His glorious inheritance.

Nicodemus asked how he can be born again. Nicodemus knew the truth of the Old Testament and the prophecies of the promised Messiah. But he didn’t realize that the promised Messiah was standing in front of him. Jesus pointed to an Old Testament story to prove that He was the Messiah and that He would die for our sins. When the Israelites were wandering in the desert, they became impatient and complained to Moses that there was no water or food. So God punished them by sending venomous snakes. The people realized they had sinned by complaining to God and Moses. Then they repented of their sins. God instructed Moses to construct a bronze snake and place it on a pole. Anyone who looked at the bronze snake was healed and lived (Numbers 21:4-9). The bronze snake is an early symbol that pointed to Jesus’ death on the cross.

After the conversation with Nicodemus ended, John includes his own commentary about the subject of regeneration. This helps us understand what Jesus was teaching Nicodemus. John tells us that believers are not afraid to be in the light. Unbelievers do not want to go into the light because their sin is exposed there. Regeneration results in God-honoring desires.

Now we move to a new scene. John the Baptist’s disciples were upset that Jesus’ disciples were baptizing more people. But John realized that his ministry was short term and that God was raising up Jesus to fulfill His ministry on earth. John continued to point others to Jesus instead of himself.

And here is a beautiful description of John 3:16:
For God – the greatest Lover
so loved – the greatest degree
the world – the greatest company
that he gave – the greatest act
his one and only Son, – the greatest gift
that whoever – the greatest opportunity
believes in him – the greatest simplicity
shall not perish – the greatest promise
but – the greatest difference
have – the greatest certainty
eternal life – the greatest possession

Things to Think About
  • Belief in Christ produces a new life, a new way of life, and a new purpose in life.
  • Have you been born again?
  • Has your new life in Christ changed your thinking? Has your new life in Christ changed the way that you live?
  • Believers have a new way of living – living according to God’s Word.
  • The longer we believe in Jesus, the more we should look like Him. As we grow in spiritual maturity, there should be evidence of a changed life.

This Week’s Memory Verse
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. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. John 3:16-17 NIV