Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain. 1 Cor. 15:58


Tuesday, June 5, 2012

John 3 (day 351)

Blogging through The Book of 
Chapter 3

(John 3:1-2)There was a man named Nicodemus, a Jewish religious leader who was a Pharisee. After dark one evening, he came to speak with Jesus. “Rabbi,” he said, “we all know that God has sent you to teach us. Your miraculous signs are evidence that God is with you.”
No one questioned that Jesus performed miracles. Even the religious leaders who (spoiler alert) killed him in later chapters knew he did things no 'man' could do. That was part of the reason they were so scared of Him. We will get into more reasons later--
So, to set up our chapter, Jesus has performed a few miracles. Word was getting around about what he was doing. All of the religious leaders, the Sanhedrien, was up in arms over Jesus: how dare he attack the temple, heal the sick on the Sabbath, claim to be the Son of God?!
One of the leaders, Nicodemus, felt something in his heart about this man. There was 'something' about him that made he not able to be mad at him. Instead of hating him, he questioned him. 

(John 3:3-4) Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, unless you are born again, you cannot see the Kingdom of God.”
 “What do you mean?” exclaimed Nicodemus. “How can an old man go back into his mother’s womb and be born again?”

Nicodemus' question seems a bit silly to us. Obviously, we can't get into our mother's belly again. But how human of Nicodemus to be confused. When faced with things that seem too hard for God, don't we look through them with our 'how can that be' human eyes? 

(John 3:5)Jesus replied, “I assure you, no one can enter the Kingdom of God without being born of water and the Spirit.

This tells us exactly, point blank, how to enter Heaven. We have TWO criteria: 1) be born of water (ie actually physical birth-- well, we all have that covered). 2) be born of the Spirit (ie accept Jesus as our Savior).

No where in there did it say it's your works or the good things you do. Good people DO go to Heaven-- but not all of them, not those who haven't accepted Jesus into their lives. God made it so easy for us! We have TWO directions: be born (HE even does that for us!) and accept his Son died for your sins. 

God makes things so easy for us... we make them so complicated.

(John 3:6-9) Humans can reproduce only human life, but the Holy Spirit gives birth to spiritual life. So don’t be surprised when I say, ‘You must be born again.’  The wind blows wherever it wants. Just as you can hear the wind but can’t tell where it comes from or where it is going, so you can’t explain how people are born of the Spirit.”

I LOVE this description of God/Holy Spirit. You can't see wind, but you know it's there. You can see how it affects the trees, leaves, flags around you. You can feel it. You know it's there.

Same for God and the Spirit. You can see how it affects things around you. You can feel it inside, and you know it's there.

(John 3:10-15)“How are these things possible?” Nicodemus asked.
 Jesus replied, “You are a respected Jewish teacher, and yet you don’t understand these things?  I assure you, we tell you what we know and have seen, and yet you won’t believe our testimony.  But if you don’t believe me when I tell you about earthly things, how can you possibly believe if I tell you about heavenly things? No one has ever gone to heaven and returned. But the Son of Man has come down from heaven. And as Moses lifted up the bronze snake on a pole in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, so that everyone who believes in him will have eternal life.

Nicodemus had no idea what Jesus was talking about. He wanted to, I think, but he couldn't. 

This is foreshadowing to how Jesus will die later on in the chapter.  And as Moses lifted up the bronze snake on a pole in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, so that everyone who believes in him will have eternal life. means Jesus being lifted up on the cross. Jews weren't normally killed on a cross. That was a Roman death. Jews were usually stoned to death. Jesus was letting it be known that he knew exactly how he was going to die.

(John 3:16) “For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.

"My Daddy loved you SO Much... that he's asking me to die to save you." Is basically the the theme of John 3:16. It is one of most known verses in the Bible. People know 'of' it that don't even go to church or even know God. 

God loves the world (YOU) as much as he loves his own child-- How much gratitude would you feel to someone if you PHYSICALLY saw them dying for you or giving their child for you to live? How can we not feel the same toward God?

(John 3:17-21)God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him.
 “There is no judgment against anyone who believes in him. But anyone who does not believe in him has already been judged for not believing in God’s one and only Son. And the judgment is based on this fact: God’s light came into the world, but people loved the darkness more than the light, for their actions were evil. All who do evil hate the light and refuse to go near it for fear their sins will be exposed. But those who do what is right come to the light so others can see that they are doing what God wants.”

If you don't want your sins exposed, don't go toward the light; because the light sees all. That's why some people are scared of church or Jesus. They are scared that their sins will come to light. Well, sins ALWAYS come to light; be it here or in the afterlife. I'd rather have them forgiven here and forgotten there than hidden here and exposed there.

(John 3:22-15)22 Then Jesus and his disciples left Jerusalem and went into the Judean countryside. Jesus spent some time with them there, baptizing people.
23 At this time John the Baptist was baptizing at Aenon, near Salim, because there was plenty of water there; and people kept coming to him for baptism. 24 (This was before John was thrown into prison.) 25 A debate broke out between John’s disciples and a certain Jew[h] over ceremonial cleansing. 26 So John’s disciples came to him and said, “Rabbi, the man you met on the other side of the Jordan River, the one you identified as the Messiah, is also baptizing people. And everybody is going to him instead of coming to us.”


John's disciples were jealous. 

John had been the man until Jesus showed up. He had fame, power to some extent. He had followers. 

Then here comes this other guy stealing all the glory. 

How very human of the disciples!

Are we much different? Do you get jealous of other people? Other people's ministry? We need to take a look at how John the Baptist handled it as our template on how to handle situations like that.

(John 3:27-29) John replied, “No one can receive anything unless God gives it from heaven.  You yourselves know how plainly I told you, ‘I am not the Messiah. I am only here to prepare the way for him.’  It is the bridegroom who marries the bride, and the best man is simply glad to stand with him and hear his vows. Therefore, I am filled with joy at his success.

John didn't just stop preaching or lay down and sulk or EVEN pretend to be happy for him. He was FILLED WITH JOY at his success. When was the last time you were filled with joy (true joy) at the success of someone else?

(John 3:30)  He must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less.

In our culture, being the biggest, best, greatest, most awesome, etc. is what we are told to go after. We do what we can to be 'the best'. John the Baptist shows us how to really live for God. Let him become greater by decreasing yourself.

Does that mean to have a low self-esteem? Of course not. It means that you understand that for Jesus' message to get out, you have to put aside feelings of being 'big'. To God, reaching one is as great as reaching many. Someone who reaches many might not be about to reach the one like you can.

In this world, in your life, you have to decrease so he can increase.

(John 3:31-36)“He has come from above and is greater than anyone else. We are of the earth, and we speak of earthly things, but he has come from heaven and is greater than anyone else. He testifies about what he has seen and heard, but how few believe what he tells them!Anyone who accepts his testimony can affirm that God is true. For he is sent by God. He speaks God’s words, for God gives him the Spirit without limit. The Father loves his Son and has put everything into his hands. And anyone who believes in God’s Son has eternal life. Anyone who doesn’t obey the Son will never experience eternal life but remains under God’s angry judgment.”

Now that John the Baptist knew that Jesus was the Messiah without a doubt, he understood what it truly meant. 

We began this chapter with a learned man, a respected and very educated man, Nicodemus, who couldn't comprehend what Jesus was or why he was here.  We end the chapter with John the Baptist, a 'strange' man by all rights, who knew exactly what was happening.

Don't think because you don't have a degree or 'smart' or 'worthy' keep you from doing what God has told you to do. Nicodemus had all the learning a man of his day could have, but he didn't understand. All the book smarts in the world didn't understand Jesus to him.

Let's try to live more like John the Baptist-- making ourselves less so Jesus can be more; being humble; knowing that we are here to help spread the world about Jesus. He is a great example for us.

Imperfectly Yours,


Linked with: On Your Heart Tuesday

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  1. I really enjoyed this study. I plan to go back and read chapters 1 and 2! Blessings <))><