John 3

Since the natural man, however gifted, moral, or refined, is absolutely blind to spiritual truth and impotent to enter the kingdom, a new birth through Christ as the channel and the Holy Spirit as the power is an absolute necessity. Heaven is a prepared place for a prepared people. The only gateway to it is — Jesus.

1 There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews:

2 The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him.

3 Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.

4 Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born?

5 Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.

6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.

7 Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.

8 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.

9 Nicodemus answered and said unto him, How can these things be?

10 Jesus answered and said unto him, Art thou a master of Israel, and knowest not these things?

11 Verily, verily, I say unto thee, We speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen; and ye receive not our witness.

12 If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things?

13 And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven.

14 ¶ And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up:

15 That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.

16 ¶ 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.

17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.

18 ¶ He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

19 And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.

20 For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.

21 But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.

22 ¶ After these things came Jesus and his disciples into the land of Judaea; and there he tarried with them, and baptized.

23 ¶ And John also was baptizing in Aenon near to Salim, because there was much water there: and they came, and were baptized.

24 For John was not yet cast into prison.

25 ¶ Then there arose a question between some of John’s disciples and the Jews about purifying.

26 And they came unto John, and said unto him, Rabbi, he that was with thee beyond Jordan, to whom thou barest witness, behold, the same baptizeth, and all men come to him.

27 John answered and said, A man can receive nothing, except it be given him from heaven.

28 Ye yourselves bear me witness, that I said, I am not the Christ, but that I am sent before him.

29 He that hath the bride is the bridegroom: but the friend of the bridegroom, which standeth and heareth him, rejoiceth greatly because of the bridegroom’s voice: this my joy therefore is fulfilled.

30 He must increase, but I must decrease.

31 He that cometh from above is above all: he that is of the earth is earthly, and speaketh of the earth: he that cometh from heaven is above all.

32 And what he hath seen and heard, that he testifieth; and no man receiveth his testimony.

33 He that hath received his testimony hath set to his seal that God is true.

34 For he whom God hath sent speaketh the words of God: for God giveth not the Spirit by measure unto him.

35 The Father loveth the Son, and hath given all things into his hand.

36 He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.

John 3:1-8 – ​New Life from above the Need of All

   In John 3-4 we have two remarkable instances of the Lord’s intimate knowledge of the human heart.
   Apparently Nicodemus had shrunk from identifying himself with John’s baptism. He was one of the richest men in Jerusalem, and our Lord addressed him as a master, John 2:10. He was willing to talk about systems of truth and schemes of philosophy; but the Master knew that more, much more, was necessary; there must be the emergence of His soul into the experience of an enlarged and fuller life. The phrase, “the new birth,” the Jews always used for Gentiles, and it greatly startled Nicodemus to learn that there was needed for himself the same change as was required by Gentiles before entering the Jewish commonwealth. The new life begotten by the Spirit of God is as mysterious as the wind. That Spirit, bearing the germ of a new life, rejoices to enter each open casement and to fill each vacuum, wherever one will. —Through the Bible Day by Day

John 3:3 – ​Nothing will produce a new life but a new nature. (Arnot)

​John 3:6 – Streams rise no higher than their fountains. The idea of educing a spiritual nature out of the carnal, is to reverse an eternal law.

John 3:9-21 – ​Love’s Great Gift: Received or Rejected

   Though physically on earth, our Lord was spiritually in touch with the heavenly realities. He was living among them and bore witness to them. Notice that must, John 3:14. He was the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world, and the divine purpose of redemption would fail unless He fulfilled His part in the eternal compact. That which had been resolved upon before the foundations of the hills were laid must be carried out in all its terrible detail. He must be accounted as a sin offering, and go forth as a scapegoat. He must tread the winepress alone, and pour out His soul unto death. Yet He was not rebellious, nor did He turn back. He rejoiced to do the Father’s will. For the joy that was set before Him, He endured the Cross.
   Redemption originated in God’s great love. Notice the pairs in John 3:16: God and the Sonloved and gavethe world and whosoeverbelieveth and havenot perish but have life. The judgment is already in process, and the turning point with each who has known the gospel will be his attitude toward the light he has enjoyed. Evil men avoid the light, as an inflamed eye the sun. No true heart fears Christ, and on coming to Him it discovers that unconsciously it has been wrought upon by God. —Through the Bible Day by Day

John 3:16; 4:14

   God’s business is not to be done wholesale. Christ’s greatest utterances were delivered to congregations of one or two. (Moody)

​John 3:16 – The cross is the stumbling-block against which the waves of eternal love broke into the silver spray of speech. (Joseph Parker)

John 3:16

​Christ died for sin.
Believer dies to sin.
Unbeliever dies in sin.

John 3:22-30 – ​John Shows the Greatness of Humility

   It is expressly stated in John 4:2 that Jesus baptized through His disciples. This controversy arose with a Jew, who was comparing the respective baptisms of John and the Lord. Perhaps he stirred John’s followers with jealousy as he contrasted the crowds that gathered round the new teacher with the waning popularity of the old. But the Baptist had no sense of being aggrieved. His answer is one of the noblest ever made by human lips: “My work has been definitely assigned to me. It has been enough for me to fulfill it. The rapture of the Bridegroom and His success in wooing hearts is not for me. It is enough to behold His joy. He must increase, but I must decrease, but I sorrow not. Indeed, my joy is filled to the brim because of His success.”
   What a blessing it would be if we could enshrine in our hearts this immortal maxim: A man can receive nothing, except it be given him from heaven! What we have is God’s gift; let us hold it reverently. What another person has is God’s gift to him; we have no right to find fault with His dealings with another of His servants. Our orbits are distinct; all we have to do is to shine our brightest where He has placed us, confident that He knows best. —Through the Bible Day by Day

John 3:27—A man can receive nothing, except it be given him from heaven.

​   After six months of marvelous ministry, in which the Baptist had seen the whole land at his feet, had gathered a band of disciples, and introduced the Messiah to the Jewish people, he found the crowds dwindling. His disciples viewed with feelings of chagrin the transference of popular interest from their master to Him of whom he had borne witness.
   What John the Baptist meant by it.—He realized that the crowds, the hushed attention, the swift response, the power of speech, the message, the deep repentance, the office of morning star heralding the Dayspring from on high, had been the gift of God. He had nothing which he had not received; he would have received nothing, except God had given it to him. Whether these things went or came was a matter altogether beyond his control. His part was to receive and use what God gave; and then return to Him, at his bidding, the saved talent. This forbade alike pride and despondency.
   What we may learn by it.—Humility and peace. Humility. Is this the time of your prosperity? Crowds wait on your words; mighty movements circle around you; glorious results follow on your plans! Do not be puffed up. Boast not yourself. “Who maketh thee to differ from another? and what hast thou that thou didst not receive? now if thou didst receive it, why dost thou glory, as if thou hadst not received it?” (1 Corinthians 4:7). Peace. If it is not due to your lethargy or sloth that the crowds have ebbed away, and that the tide of conversions has dropped below its former level, be at peace. These are things which the Holy Spirit worketh, dividing to each one severally even as He will. —Our Daily Homily

John 3:27 – ​As the rays come from the sun, and yet are not the sun; even so our love and pity, though they are not God, but merely a poor, weak image and reflection of Him, yet from Him alone they come. If there is mercy in our hearts, it comes from the fountain of mercy. If there is the light of love in us, it is a ray from the full sun on His love. (C. Kingsley)

John 3:30

​​   In the part of New England where I spend my summer holiday, I have seen a parable of nature that sets forth union with Christ. It is an example of natural grafting, if you have ever seen such an instance. Two little saplings grew up side by side. Through the action of the wind they crossed each other; by and by the bark of each became wounded and the sap began to mingle, until in some still day they became united together. This process went on more and more, and by and by they were firmly compacted. Then the stronger began to absorb the life of the weaker. It grew larger and larger, while the other grew smaller and smaller; then it began to wither and decline, till it finally dropped away and disappeared, and now there are two trunks at the bottom and only one at the top. Death has taken away the one; life has triumphed in the other.
   There was a time when you and Jesus Christ met. The wounds of your penitent heart began to knit up with the wounds of His broken heart, and you were united to Christ. Where are you now? Are the two lives running parallel, or has the word been accomplished in you, “He must increase, but I must decrease”? Has that old life been growing less and less and less? More and more have you been mortifying it, until at last it seems almost to have disappeared? Blessed are ye, if such is the case. Then you can say, “I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20). Henceforth “for to me to live is Christ” (Philippians 1:21) – not two, but one. (A.J. Gordon)

John 3:31-36 – ​A Witness to Be Trusted

   Let us all seek to live more habitually in heaven, that is, in contact with the spiritual world. To do our best work in the world it is not necessary to be great in argument or rhetoric, but simply to bear witness of what we have seen and heard. It is true that the natural man will not receive our testimony. Paul found that out in after years, I Corinthians 2:14. But where our witness is accepted by the spiritually-minded, another seal is placed upon it as being the truth of God. Notice also that when a man is sent on God’s errand and speaks God’s word, he can count on the supply of God’s spirit without stint. There is no careful measurement of how much or how little. For long years and to any extent, he may count upon God.
   Note the present tenses of the last two verses. They are as true today as when first uttered. Our eternity dates not from our dying moment, but from that in which we first trust in Jesus Christ. If you can do nothing else, be willing to trust Him as soon as He is revealed to you, and in the meanwhile obey Him; that path will bring you into the open. —Through the Bible Day by Day