John 3:1–17 NRSV – Now there was a Pharisee named Nicodemus, a leader of the Jews. 3:2 He came to Jesus by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God; for no one can do these signs that you do apart from the presence of God.” 3:3 Jesus answered him, “Very truly, I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above.” 3:4 Nicodemus said to him, “How can anyone be born after having grown old? Can one enter a second time into the mother’s womb and be born?” 3:5 Jesus answered, “Very truly, I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit. 3:6 What is born of the flesh is flesh, and what is born of the Spirit is spirit. 3:7 Do not be astonished that I said to you, ‘You must be born from above.’ 3:8 The wind blows where it chooses, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” 3:9 Nicodemus said to him, “How can these things be?” 3:10 Jesus answered him, “Are you a teacher of Israel, and yet you do not understand these things? 3:11 “Very truly, I tell you, we speak of what we know and testify to what we have seen; yet you do not receive our testimony. 3:12 If I have told you about earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you about heavenly things? 3:13 No one has ascended into heaven except the one who descended from heaven, the Son of Man. 3:14 And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, 3:15 that whoever believes in him may have eternal life. 3:16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life. 3:17 “Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.
Summary – John 3 is the famous passage of the conversation between Jesus and Nicodemus, an inquiring Pharisee. It is famous because the language of being “born again” comes from this text. In this version (NRSV) this phrase is more properly translated being “born from above,” since the Greek word “anothen” can be either born “again” or “from above.” In the context Jesus is speaking about a new creation birth by the Spirit that will come from heaven, just as Jesus Himself came from heaven. The Kingdom that Nicodemus (and all the Pharisees) were looking for would be a Kingdom that must be entered through the water of Baptism and the Baptism of the Spirit. This Spiritual Cleansing of Israel is what the Prophets spoke of in the times associated with the coming of Messiah (such as last week’s reading in Ez. 37). Jesus explains that God gave His Son for the world, not in condemnation, but that the world would be saved through believing in Him.
Insight – Have you come to the place in your life where you know that you have peace with God? Have you had a spiritual change in your life? Here’s a question that may help you to discern your spiritual condition: If you died today and were standing before God the Judge of All and He asked you why you should go to heaven, what would you say? The best answer to this question is found in verse 16: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.” We are all responsible to trust that Jesus makes us acceptable to God the Father.
Catechism – What does John 3:16 teach? That God so loved the world that He gave His only Son so that everyone who believes in Him may not perish but may have eternal life.
Discussion – If Jesus did not come into the world to condemn the world then what did He come to do? How does your life fit with God’s purpose for sending Jesus?
Prayer – Almighty Father we thank you for sending Jesus our only Savior into the world so that we might be saved through Him who was lifted up on the cross, taking our sins, taking our judgment and giving us His life. We believe in Him and ask that you would grant to us the grace to continue steadfastly in that faith through out our lives, in Christ’s Name. Amen.