God’s Renewing Word of Love
John 3:1-21: Nicodemus, a Pharisee, approaches Jesus at night and questions him about the Kingdom of God. Jesus describes what it means to be born of the Spirit. By believing in Jesus, one will have eternal life. (The reference in verse 14 to Moses lifting up the bronze snake on a pole is found in Numbers 21:9.) The reading concludes with a contrast between light and darkness.
Jesus and Nicodemus
1There was a Jewish leader named Nicodemus, who belonged to the party of the Pharisees. 2One night he went to Jesus and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher sent by God. No one could perform the miracles you are doing unless God were with him.”
3Jesus answered, “I am telling you the truth: no one can see the Kingdom of God without being born again.”
4“How can a grown man be born again?” Nicodemus asked. “He certainly cannot enter his mother’s womb and be born a second time!”
5“I am telling you the truth,” replied Jesus, “that no one can enter the Kingdom of God without being born of water and the Spirit. 6A person is born physically of human parents, but is born spiritually of the Spirit. 7Do not be surprised because I tell you that you must all be born again. 8The wind blows wherever it wishes; you hear the sound it makes, but you do not know where it comes from or where it is going. It is like that with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”
9“How can this be?” asked Nicodemus.
10Jesus answered, “You are a great teacher in Israel, and you don’t know this? 11I am telling you the truth: we speak of what we know and report what we have seen, yet none of you is willing to accept our message. 12 You do not believe me when I tell you about the things of this world; how will you ever believe me, then, when I tell you about the things of heaven? 13 And no one has ever gone up to heaven except the Son of Man, who came down from heaven.”
14 As Moses lifted up the bronze snake on a pole in the desert, in the same way the Son of Man must be lifted up, 15so that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life. 16For God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not die but have eternal life. 17For God did not send his Son into the world to be its judge, but to be its savior.
18Those who believe in the Son are not judged; but those who do not believe have already been judged, because they have not believed in God’s only Son. 19This is how the judgment works: the light has come into the world, but people love the darkness rather than the light, because their deeds are evil. 20Those who do evil things hate the light and will not come to the light, because they do not want their evil deeds to be shown up. 21But those who do what is true come to the light in order that the light may show that what they did was in obedience to God.
Today’s Key Verse: John 3:16
For God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not die but have eternal life.
Nicodemus appears only in John’s Gospel (see 7:50-51; 19:39-40). In verses 5-8, how does Jesus respond to Nicodemus’s question? What is your understanding of the phrase, “born of water and the Spirit” (verse 5)? Reread verses 19-21. Take note of the contrast between light and darkness. Light is a prominent image in John’s Gospel (see 1:4-5, 9; 8:12; 9:5). Light indicates the presence of God; darkness indicates God’s absence. How do you interpret verses 19-21? Reread verse 16 and substitute your name for “the world.” Have you ever memorized this verse? If not, consider doing so today.
Lord Jesus, you are my Savior. Thank you for loving me and offering me eternal life by believing in you. Help me grow in faith and share the good news about God’s love with those I meet today. Amen.
John 3:22-36: John the Baptizer acknowledges the growing importance of Jesus’s ministry.