John 3  •  5 min. read  •  grade level: 6
John 3
Certain things qualify us for entrance into the kingdom of God-the work done for us at the cross by our blessed Savior, and the work done in us by the Holy Spirit. Chapters 3 and 4 bring together two illustrations of this work.
In chapter 3 Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews, came to Jesus by night because he was interested in Jesus, but he was afraid to be with Him openly. He owned Jesus as a teacher. He, being a ruler of the Jews and having observed all of the fundamental righteous requirements of the law, was not satisfied; he did not know God or himself. All that he could see of himself was a model of behavior for those who followed the law.
Religiously, he was at the top of the ladder, like the Apostle Paul was before he was saved. This is also true of a believer-if we do not know ourselves we cannot grow. Only as we repent do we learn ourselves. In no way could one in such a condition as Nicodemus be saved, because first he must come down to the bottom to know himself in the eyes of God as a wretched sinner.
It was different with the woman at Sychar's well in chapter 4. Being already at the bottom, she learned quickly. It took Nicodemus three-and-a-half years (John 19:3939And there came also Nicodemus, which at the first came to Jesus by night, and brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about an hundred pound weight. (John 19:39)) to come to this point after learning of Jesus.
Nicodemus was an unsaved sinner, but like Job, seemed outwardly righteous. Day by day he remained the same sinner that he always was. He owned Jesus as a teacher, and Jesus told him that man cannot be taught spiritual things unless there is a new life.
It is not enough to hide our sins from men, we must learn that God sees all that we do and that we can hide nothing from Him. As soon as we learn this and repent of each sin before God, we begin to live "soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world." We cannot go on in communion with sins unjudged. How sweet to be conscious daily that all of our sins are forgiven, even those that we may have committed today. Each time I repent I learn more of myself and Christ.
Man must be born of water-the application of the Word to his conscience. This is the result of the work of the Holy Spirit of God within, which makes us discover our need of Christ, being destitute in ourselves. With-out this there is no entering into the kingdom of God.
If we are only born of the flesh-natural lives-we are still flesh, even though we outwardly observe all religious requirements. If born of the Spirit, one is born of God, with a new life.
New life is not only for Israel, for God goes over the wall of separation to the Gentiles. "The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit." The Gentiles came into blessing as stated here.
Nicodemus asks, "How can these things be?" Jesus answers, Are you a master of Israel and know not these things? What We have spoken We know, Nicodemus, but you do not receive what We tell you.
To teach the flesh is useless; there must be new birth. Christ, the truth, reveals what is in man. The testimony is sufficient, the conscience is reached, the need realized. Nicodemus saw the truth in Jesus and desired it.
New Birth
Jesus said to Nicodemus, How can you believe what I tell you of heavenly things, if you do not believe earthly things (new birth)?
The Son of man who came down from heaven is still in heaven. The Son of man must be lifted up on the cross. The serpent of brass that Moses lifted up in the wilderness for snake-bitten souls is a picture of Christ's being lifted up on the cross between heaven and earth for sinners. Those who believe on Him will never perish, but have life eternal. "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life."
The purpose of Christ's coming into the world was not to condemn the world, but to save it. It is not that man cannot come and be saved, but that he loves darkness rather than light. Doing evil, one hates the light, but doing truth, one comes to the light that his deeds might be seen in the light, having been wrought in God.
John the Baptist at Work
John was baptizing in Ænon near Salem, because the place had much water. Some came and were baptized. John had not yet been cast into prison.
Questions arose between John's disciples and the Jews about purification. They said that Jesus also baptized. John said that man can receive only that which comes from heaven in the way of service. John the Baptist confesses again that he is not the Christ; he is only His forerunner. He said, I am a friend of the Bridegroom and rejoice only to hear His voice, thereby my joy is fulfilled. Jesus must increase, I must decrease. Being from above, Jesus is above all. "He that cometh from heaven is above all. And what He hath seen and heard, that He testifieth; and no man receiveth His testimony."
One who receives His testimony receives Him as the Son of God. God does not give the Spirit by measure. All things are committed into the hands of the Son, because He loves His Son. By believing on the Son, one has eternal life. But by not believing, one shall not see life, but rather can expect the wrath of God, which already abides upon him.
John's ministry comes first; Jesus' ministry follows, when John is put into prison.