John 3:16-21 God’s Love

Now do you understand?

We are going to pick back up where we left off yesterday with Jesus and Nicodemus. Jesus is about to share the most amazing news with Nicodemus. It will rock his world and change him forever. It will do the same for each of us, if we will let it. I want to jump straight back into the story, then share a couple of points I find compelling.

When we left yesterday Jesus, His disciples and Nicodemus were in the garden of a home just outside the city. Nicodemus came seeking answers from Jesus. So far the answers Jesus has given him have been a little on the confusing side. The first of these being the need to be “born again.” Jesus is now going to shed some much needed light on His statements.

Nicodemus is contemplating Jesus’ statement about being “lifted up” and about believing in Him bringing eternal life. This is exactly what Nicodemus was hoping to learn about. But he still isn’t grasping Jesus’ meaning. He is just about to ask a question when Jesus starts speaking again.

“Nicodemus, God loved the world SO MUCH that he gave them His only Son. He did this so that whoever believes in His Son would have eternal life. God didn’t send His Son into the world to judge it but to save it through His own works. Whoever believes in Him is not condemned, but those who don’t are condemned already. They have loved their own sin and darkness so much that they have refused the light God sent to them through His Son. You know, everyone who does wicked things hates the light because the light exposes their actions. But whoever does what is right is not afraid of the light. The light clearly shows the works of God being carried out in that person’s life.”

Jesus pauses for a moment to let His words sink into Nicodemus’ heart. Then He asks, “Nicodemus, are you still in the dark?”

Nicodemus recognizes himself in Jesus words and question. Nicodemus came to Jesus in the night, under cover of darkness. He loves his position so much that he is afraid of losing it if his actions were seen in the light of day. He also recognizes his and his fellows’ rejection of Jesus’ testimony. But he is not ready yet to step into the fullness of what Jesus is telling him. He truly wants eternal life and he wants to believe in Jesus. But fear is getting in his way.

“Thank You Jesus for taking the time to talk with me. I have much to think about. I want to believe. Do You mind if I come back and talk with You again some time?”

“You are welcome anytime Nicodemus.”

Nicodemus quickly leaves, keeping to the shadows as he departs. Peter and John watch him go. “Do you think we will see him again John? And if we do, whose side do you think he is going to be on?”

“I don’t know Peter. Only time will tell. I hope he is on our side. It would be pretty nice having an inside man in the Sanhedrin.”

“That it would John. That it would.”

Everyone is tired and ready for bed so they begin to break up into small groups as they head for their assigned sleeping areas. Jesus continues to sit by the garden a little longer. He asks the Father to help Nicodemus begin to understand some of what He shared with him that night. “I know it isn’t time for him to fully understand Father, but his heart is tender. Don’t let the others crush the seed he has received tonight. Thank You for bringing him to me.” Jesus finally retires after spending time alone with His Father.

I’d like to touch on something that came up for me in yesterday’s reading. I almost tried to find a spot to wedge it into yesterday’s post but I felt it would be better if it was given its own space. I asked God to remind me of it today if it was something He really wanted me to focus on. Since He reminded me, I’m going to share it. I hope it doesn’t come off sounding too corny.

I noticed yesterday when Jesus was talking about being born of water and Spirit, the “Spirit” was capitalized. It is also capitalized when He says “what is born of Spirit is spirit” (verse 5-6). We all know that this birth Jesus is talking about is our spiritual birth, but did you notice that it is accomplished through HIS SPIRIT. Our dead spirit doesn’t simply become alive when we believe in Jesus, but the Holy Spirit of God gives birth to an eternal living spirit within us. He places His life inside us. He replaces the dead spirit with His new creation. And like any “parent” we look like our Father. We carry His likeness within us from that moment on.

Jesus’ statement about the wind also got my attention. He tells Nicodemus that the wind is beyond our explanation, it simply is. We can observe it and hear it and study it. But we can’t create it or even predict with accuracy what it will do next. The same is true with the Holy Spirit. We have less direct information about this Person of the Godhead than any other. He is beyond our understanding. Actually, all of the trinity is, but we can appreciate God in His infinite oneness without total understanding. We can observe His working in our lives. We can see where He is leading. But we can’t predict with certainty where He will take us next. His Spirit speaks to our spirit as a Father to a child and He leads us to where He has planned for us to walk.

I know I took a little bit of liberties in paraphrasing Jesus’ words to Nicodemus. I hope you will forgive me. I also took a little liberty with Nicodemus’ future story, but we know that he secretly became a believer while serving in his political position. But he stepped out of the shadows long enough to help bury Jesus body. That was pretty bold for him.

Lord Jesus, thank You for sharing God’s plan with Nicodemus and with me. You spelled it out so beautifully here. Thank You for all You work on my behalf. Thank You for loving me enough to agree to God’s plan in the first place. I would have NO hope without you. I love You and want to walk in Your light. Thank You Holy Spirit for my new life! Help me heed the words of my Father at all times. I want to grow up to look just like You. I want my Father’s eyes.

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