I can’t think of anything that’s more miraculous and awe-inspiring than new life! It’s stunning and breath-taking to behold and witness such an event. This is the very thing that Jesus unfolds for us in John 3. It’s here that we see: When we believe in Jesus we are born into eternal life. While the statement is simple, it is loaded with implications for us!
1. Jesus Offers a New Birth: v.1-13
In his exchange with Nicodemus, Jesus centers the entirety of the conversation round the notion of new birth. We see that Jesus births sight within us. What we may forget is that outside of Christ, we’re blind. Sin blinds us from seeing God. The new life that Jesus offers brings with it sight! But not only does it bring sight, but Jesus births new life in the Spirit. As Jesus continues with Nicodemus, he references water, the Spirit and wind. While these may seem like an odd combination to us, to first century Jews with a firm grasp on the Old Testament, it would have been far clearer. They would have thought about Ezekiel’s prophecy in chapters 36-37 of Ezekiel, where God cleanses his people, breathes life into them and gives them His Spirit. This is a powerful picture of what Christ is doing in us. He is cleansing us, He is giving us new life and He is putting His Spirit within us! As great as these truths are, there’s a problem for Nicodemus and it’s often our problem as well: Our problem is failing to believe Jesus. Jesus makes clear to Nicodemus that his issue is that he doesn’t believe Jesus. He doesn’t believe what He’s saying. He’s not trusting the words of Christ. Do you believe the words of Christ? More specifically do you believe what Jesus says about us – that we’re blind, we’re sinners, and that we’re dead in our sin? Do you believe what Jesus says about Himself – that He will pay the price for our sin, He will be our substitute, He will restore us to God? Do you believe what Jesus declares to be true in Christ – that we will be covered with the righteousness of Jesus and made sons and daughters of God?
2. Jesus Gives a Gospel Proclamation: v.14-15
Here Jesus references an account in Numbers 21 to help Nicodemus and the religious leaders to see that they were doing the same thing. In Numbers 21, the people complain against God and Moses. God punishes them by sending fiery serpents. As the people repent, they are commanded to look at a bronze serpent on a pole and in that be healed. It’s a clear allusion and reference to what Jesus would do for us. But in this, we see 3 critical items that we must consider:
They are wrongly postured against God: They grumble and complain against God. This is a big deal, because when we complain against God, we’re suggesting that God is wrong, that He’s inadequate, that He isn’t worthy and He isn’t in control.
They are wrongly opposed to God’s Man: Not only did they complain against God, but also against Moses. I think this was the specific item Jesus was focusing in on, helping Nicodemus to see that He was postured not only against God’s man, but against THE God Man.
In Response, God Graciously Offers Jesus in Their Place: As shocking as the failure is, God graciously offers a substitute in Jesus for the people. Jesus is laying out here, that if you will repent and look to me, you will be saved! It’s a stunning and remarkably gracious act of God to the people. Praise God that He continues to do this for you and I today!
3. God Declares His Love to the World: v.16-21
In this final section, we are seeing a commentary or explanation of how we’re to understand the dialogue between Jesus and Nicodemus. There are a few items that highlight what is taking place. First, we see that eternal life is motivated by God’s love. God’s love is the driving factor that leads to the incarnation, which leads to God’s gracious offer of eternal life. But we must not be naïve, just because God’s motivating factor is His love, doesn’t mean He will ignore sin. Quite the opposite! We see that condemnation is the consequence of unbelief. Anything less than belief, is unbelief! While unbelief will lead to a place of hiding and living in the darkness, belief moves us into the light. It’s in the light that we are exposed, but we’re ok with that because we’re holding to the finished work of Jesus, not to our own work.
We closed our time with some questions for reflection. Here they are:
What is keeping you from fully believing in Jesus?
Are there ways in your life that you are postured against God or His Man?
Do you believe that God’s mission in Jesus to us was rooted in love?
Am I living in the darkness or the light?