A Journal Through the Bible - Verse by Verse

A Place to Jot Down My Thoughts and Questions

by J. Scott Nelson


The Gospel According To Saint John, Chapter 3

John 3:1
John 3:2
John 3:3
John 3:4
John 3:5
John 3:6
John 3:7
John 3:8
John 3:9
John 3:10
John 3:11
John 3:12
John 3:13
John 3:14
John 3:15
John 3:16
John 3:17
John 3:18
John 3:19
John 3:20
John 3:21
John 3:22
John 3:23
John 3:24
John 3:25
John 3:26
John 3:27
John 3:28
John 3:29
John 3:30
John 3:31
John 3:32
John 3:33
John 3:34
John 3:35
John 3:36

John 3:1

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

It says there was a man who was a Pharisee.  His name was Nicodemus.  He was a ruler of the Jews.

So, taking this at face value, some of the rulers are Pharisees; at least one is.

John 3:2

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.

It says this man, Nicodemus, came to Jesus one night, and told Jesus that they know that Jesus is a teacher that has come from God; because no man can do the miracles that Jesus is doing, unless God is with him.

So, one ruler comes to Jesus, seemingly in sincerity.  So, not all of the rulers are totally corrupt.  And at least one Pharisee has a mind that is not totally closed.

I guess Nicodemus was afraid that someone might find out that he want to talk with Jesus; I'm assuming that's why he went at night.  There really must have been some serious pressure to keep it secret.

Nicodemus says that "we" know you are a teacher from God.  Was it common back then to say "we" and really mean "I"?  Or was there more than one of the Jewish rulers that believed Jesus was from God?

Jesus must have really been doing quite a few remarkable miracles for a ruler to take note of it.  Although, even one prominently public miracle would be enough to create a stir, and make a ruler curious to know what was going on.

So they say they know that Jesus is from God, otherwise there'd be no way for Jesus to do all these miracles.

I wonder if any of the 12 disciples saw Nicodemus, and recognized him as a ruler.  Obviously, John (writing this), at least, found out about it.  And, so, the name of Nicodemus goes down in history.

Interesting that he starts out this way.  It almost sounds like he is brown-nosing.  But that's probably just the English translation.

John 3:3

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.

It says Jesus replied to Nicodemus, saying that Jesus is telling him the truth that, unless a man is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.

Jesus doesn't chit-chat; he seems to jump straight to the main point.  It's like Jesus knows what Nicodemus really came for, or what he needs to hear.

So, for any man to see the kingdom of God, he must go through another birth.  And, if you are born, then that birth brings you into another life; you enter a new life.  So only those who enter this new life will see the kingdom of God.

Lord, open our eyes that we may see the significance of our new birth.

John 3:4

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?

It says that Nicodemus replied to Jesus, asking how a man can be born when he is old; and if a man can reenter his mother's womb and be born.

It sounds like this was a totally new concept to Nicodemus.  And it's like he is making sure that Jesus sees how crazy this idea sounds, like "surely you are not suggesting."  And he's saying this to ask "what do you really mean?"

From other parts of the bible, it seems like the Jews thought that if you are a Jew, and you follow the rules, then you will be in Gods kingdom.  So this may sound so different to Nicodemus because Jesus is describing something that is on a personal level, not national or ethnic.

I don't doubt there are many concepts where we do the same thing.  And we have no idea that our view of some concept is wrong in every important respect, and what we believe is a major misconception.  And we would make decisions very differently if we truly understood it, and had an accurate view of God.

Lord, open our eyes, let us see the truth, and give us understanding, so that we can follow you and make wise decisions.

John 3:5

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.

It says that Jesus answered Nicodemus, saying that Jesus is telling him the truth, that unless a man is born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.

So from verse 3 we know that a man has to be born again to see the kingdom of God.  Now in addition, we are told that a man must be born of water and of the Spirit to enter God's kingdom.  So it would appear that the rebirth is both of water (which I'm assuming is a water baptism) and of the Spirit.

This states the two as separate things, being born of water and born of the Spirit.  This could make you wonder if both always occur at the same time, or do they occur at different times.

I cannot claim that I have a clear understanding of what it really means to be born of water, or born of the Spirit, or when they occur.  I trust this will become clear as I read more of the bible.

This does not put any limits on when the rebirths can occur, either.

This does imply that men can and do enter the kingdom of God.  But, from what this says, you cannot say that you immediately enter the kingdom of God when you are born or water and of the Spirit.  And, as well, you cannot say that you don't enter immediately, either.

Does this imply that if you are born of water and of the Spirit that you are guaranteed to enter the kingdom of God; is this the only requirement?

Lord, help us understand this idea of being reborn, both of water and of the Spirit.

John 3:6

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

Jesus continues here by saying that what is born of the flesh is flesh and what is born of the Spirit is spirit.

It seems like Jesus is drawing some kind of parallel between the two.  Like, when a being of flesh gives birth, what is born is flesh.  In a similar way, when a being of the Spirit gives birth, what is born is spirit.  On the face of it, it seems obvious.  But I feel like there is more to it, like there is something I'm not quite getting.

So, let's see, after we are born again, born of the Spirit, we have had two births, into two lives.  First, when we are born from our mother, we are born of the flesh into this life of the flesh.  And when we are born again, we are born of the Spirit into a new life of the Spirit.

I'm not sure if we have a spirit before we are born again, and it is just dormant or dead in someway, or we don't have a spirit at all, until we get one when we are reborn of the Spirit.

This verse reminds me of parts of the bible that talk about us choosing to "walk" in the flesh or in the Spirit.

So, from this, it appears that when we are born again, we have two lives, one of the flesh and one of the Spirit.  And they co-exist somehow, and I would assume they affect each other.

And if you can't enter the kingdom of God unless you are born of water and of the Spirit, then it would appear that the flesh is pretty much worthless, from an eternal perspective.  So, if we are living primarily to satisfy the desires of our flesh, then we are totally wasting our time.  We must set the goal of our lives on something other than our flesh.  We must focus on something of the Spirit.

Lord, help us always focus our lives on things other than the flesh.  Give us a clear vision of where you are leading us, so we can set our focus there.

John 3:7

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

Jesus tells Nicodemus not to be amazed that Jesus said to him that he must be born again.

So, Jesus says not to be amazed.  It reminds me a little of when we say "Oh, don't act all surprised."  Like he's saying that Nicodemus should have known already.  As if someone who has studied the Old Testament scriptures would have discovered this.  Though Jesus could mean something else.  Like, he may just mean, not to be amazed, that it is quite simple, really.  I'm not sure.  Hopefully it will become clear.

John 3:8

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.

Jesus continues, saying that the wind blows where it wants, and you hear the sound of it, but you can't tell where it comes from, or where it's going; so it is with every one born of the Spirit.

He seems to be saying that, for someone born of the Spirit, if you look at their life, their decisions, you can see the effect of the Spirit, but you can't tell necessarily where that decision came from, what their motivation was, or what they are likely to do in a particular situation.&nbps; But I'm not sure why Jesus brings this up now, or how this is relevant here in what he is saying about needing to be born again.

It would appear that this is an explanation or clarification to Jesus' statement that Nicodemus should not be surprised about Jesus saying Nicodemus needs to be born again.&nbps; But maybe I'm wrong.&nbps; Maybe this is just a continuing statement, instead of an explanation.&nbps; But that doesn't help much with my understanding.&nbps; All I can really tell is that he is describing some attribute where you know it is there (because you hear the sound), but you don't know its source or its destination; or maybe you'd say its purpose or its goal.&nbps; And he's saying that every one born of the Spirit has that same attribute.

So if you know that someone, who is born of the Spirit, has this attribute, should it be a surprise that you need to be born of the Spirit to enter the kingdom of God?&nbps; I'm not sure I see the connection.

Lord, open my eyes, let me understand what you are telling me here.

John 3:9

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

It says that Nicodemus replied to Jesus, asking how these things could be.

I can identify with that.  I certainly wish I understood what Jesus meant.

John 3:10

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

It says that Jesus replied to Nicodemus, asking if he is a master of Israel and he doesn't know these things.

Again, similar to verse 7, it's like Jesus expects Nicodemus to know this already.  After all, Nicodemus is a leader of Israel.  He should be teaching these things to the people.  It's kind of like Jesus is a little surprised, that a leader of Israel would not know this.

It makes it seem like the study of the scriptures was more for some kind of intellectual, legal, or political advantage, rather than as a pursuit to know God.  So they gain a knowledge of the legalistic details, but they miss the truth about God.  But I'm not sure; I'm just speculating.  I certainly don't understand it either.  But then, the Pharisees seem to claim that they had mastered the scriptures.  I couldn't claim to have even attempted a complete and thorough study of the scriptures.

So this makes it sound like, if you study the Old Testament enough, you will discover this truth about this attribute of the Spirit and how it applies to being born of the Spirit, and seeing the kingdom of God.

Lord, let your Holy Spirit teach me these truths.

John 3:11

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.

Jesus continues, saying that he is telling the truth when he says to Nicodemus, "we speak of what we know, and testify to what we have seen, and you all don't accept what we say.

The first thing that hits me is that Jesus says "we", not "I".  I assume he is referring to himself and his disciples.

He says they tell people what they know and describe what they have seen.  But the religious leaders don't believe it is true, basically calling Jesus a liar.  Even though they could probably go do some research into some of these reports and find out for sure if it is true or not.  There is no indication that they put much of any effort into finding out the truth.  In fact, there are some cases where they are eye witnesses to a miracle (e.g. Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead) and they still don't accept it.

I wonder how often we stiff-arm the truth, making it harder for us to see what God wants to show us, and we're actually being a detriment to ourselves.

Lord, keep me from blocking myself from the truth.  Give me the courage to face the truth.

John 3:12

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

It says that Jesus continued by asking Nicodemus, if Jesus has told them of earthly things and they don't believe, how will they believe if Jesus tells them of heavenly things.

He seems to be asking Nicodemus a rather obvious question.  Jesus has told them about things on earth, some of which you would expect they can actually go and check out for themselves to see if they are true.  But they don't believe him.  So how are they going to believe when he tells them of heavenly things, where there is no way for them to go to heaven to see if it is true?  And it seems the obvious answer is, they're not going to believe.  For some reason they have made up their mind already not to believe, without checking it out.

I wonder how often we do that.  Where we make up our minds about something, without actually looking into it.  We just believe what someone tells us, even though it turns out to contradict something the bible tells us.  We are often more lazy about these things than we want to admit.

Lord, grant us the ability to be diligent, to read your word, so we will know the truth and not just accept things that are false.

John 3:13

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.

Jesus continues, saying that no one has gone up to heaven, except for the one who came down from heaven -- the Son of man, who is in heaven.

Jesus seems to be emphasizing the point that he is the only one who can tell them about heavenly things, since he is the only one, there with them, who has been in heaven.

This is the second time (in John) Jesus has used the title "the Son of man."  And (from what I know) he used that title for himself quite a bit (several dozen times, at least).  Evidently he must have thought it was important for us to remember that Jesus is a man.

I find it intriguing that he refers to the Son of man, who "is in heaven."  Which seems to state that Jesus, who is here, in the flesh, talking to Nicodemus -- he is actually also in heaven.  This appears to be one of those mysteries, like Jesus being both fully God and fully man.  He is here in the flesh, and he is in heaven.  I will not attempt to claim I understand it.  I'm not sure there is even a need to understand it.  I think it likely is enough to just accept it; as yet another awesome attribute of Jesus.

God is pretty amazing.

John 3:14

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

Jesus says that, just like Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so must the Son of man be lifted up.

In Numbers 21:8 the Lord tells Moses to make a brass snake and put it up on a pole.  So when the Israelites look at the snake, they will survive, and not die from the snake bites.  And Jesus says here that, in a similar way, the Son of man must be lifted up.

Jesus seems to start describing a new idea here.  This is the first time we hear the idea that Jesus will be lifted up, seemingly on something like a pole.  I have to assume he's talking about his death on the cross.

Does Nicodemus get the idea that Jesus is saying that he will be lifted up, to die?  I don't think I would get that from what Jesus has said here so far.

Also, it's interesting that Jesus is telling this to Nicodemus, in a private evening talk.

John 3:15

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

Jesus continues saying, the Son of man must be lifted up, so that whoever believes in him may not perish, but have eternal life.

So, the purpose for the Son of man being "lifted up" is so that believers may have eternal life.

If you believe in him, what does that mean?  If I believe in someone, then I trust them.  I believe that what they say is true.

It says whoever believes in him.  It does not place any limitations on it.  So no matter what I've done, no matter how bad I've messed things up, he says, if I believe in the Son of man, the one who is "lifted up", then I may have eternal life.

He uses the phrase "have eternal life."  He doesn't say they will live forever.  You could argue that they mean the same thing.  But I get the feeling that there is more to it.  It's like "eternal life" is a particular kind of life.  And we get to have it right now.  It's not just something that we get when we pass away from this physical life.  Living forever is included as part of it.  But it includes more than that, probably a lot more.  And if God is consistent, it includes more than we can imagine.  It just seems like God is way more extravagant than that, in his giving (not that living forever is a small thing).

Thank you Father for being so incredibly generous.

John 3:16

16For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

Jesus says that God loved the world so much that He gave His only begotten Son, so that whoever believes in him may not perish, but have eternal life.

One thing that strikes me is the use of the word "perish", which of course I had to look up to see what kinds of nuances there were.  It seems to carry a meaning that is not just a loss of life, but a loss due to damage or decay, of being broken and rotting.

He says that God loved the entire world.  I happened to look up this verse in Greek, and the verb "loved" has some odd tense where the idea of the verb (i.e. love) seems to be considered with no regard to past, present, or future time.  It's like it just is.  So it's like it says, not just that God loved, but that He is loving, will love, and will have been loving the entire world, at any and every time, and for all time.  Well, that's what I get from it, anyway.

He loved the world so much that he gave the world a gift.  So, since God knows everything, He knew how bad I would mess things up, and He knew how bad you would be, He knew the people who would commit horrible murders, He knew it all.  And yet, He gave us a gift, all of us.

And this isn't just any gift.  He gave His son.  The only child that is His own offspring.  I don't think we really grasp this.  It's something like -- what if you were a rich and powerful ruler.  And there was a whole bunch of your own people that rejected you, and ridiculed and ignored what you ever had to say.  And they did what they wanted, and messed up their lives so bad that they were now on death row.  Would you ask your own son, your only child, whom you love, to give up the comfort of the palace, and his position and authority, to go live with those people, even for just a few years.  For him to be hated, mocked, insulted, falsely accused, and then arrested, beaten, spit on, tortured, and finally nailed up on a cross beam, in public, to bleed to death, as if he was one of the worst criminals?  Even knowing that you were going to bring your son back to life, would you ask your son to go through that kind of pain, for people that wanted nothing to do with you, to die in their place, to save those people from death row?  I'm pretty sure I would not do it.  I doubt I would even think to do something like that.  You know, in some way, I think that makes it hard to see how big a gift this really is.

So it seems to say, we can choose to accept this inconceivable gift, and believe in Jesus, and He will give us this gift of eternal life, here and now.  Or we will lose our life, due to the damage we have caused ourselves, and our continued decay.

Father in heaven, give us all the ability to see how magnificent your gift really is, and the grace and mercy to allow us to respond in a way thats befitting.

John 3:17

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

It says that God sent His son into the world not to condemn the world, but so that, through him, the world might be saved.

So God sent His son into the world.  And He sent His son, so that through His son, every person in the world may be saved.  So, again we see, the way to be saved, so we will not perish, is through His son … believing in His son.

Every person in the entire world has a way to be saved, by simply believing that God has provided the way for them to be saved; and that was is through His son.

There must be something important for us to know, in that He sent His son not to condemn the world, or judge the world.  I guess it would be easy to think that.  Or maybe many of them did think that, of the Messiah.  It would be a comfort then, to know this.

Thank you Father, for giving us all a way to be saved, to have everlasting life.

John 3:18

18He 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.

It says that anyone that believes on the son of God is not condemned.  But anyone who does not believe is condemned already.  And that person is condemned because they do not believe in the name of God's only begotten son.

It says unbelievers are condemned "already".  I wonder what it means by that.  The word "condemned" seems to mean that they are judged as unfit or incapable or something.  But "already"?

No matter how you look at it, you don't want to be condemned, which I guess is pretty obvious.

John 3:19

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.

It says that the condemnation, or judgment, is this, that light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light, because the things they did were evil.

It seems to say that, unbelievers have been judged.  And the judgment is this, that it has been shown that they loved the darkness rather than the light.  And they loved the darkness because they did evil things, and it kept them from being exposed.  And that is what condemns unbelievers.  Otherwise, they would not love the darkness the way they do.  They would not have any problem with their deeds being put in the spotlight for all to see.

Father in heaven, we thank you for providing a way for us to be saved and not be condemned to hell.

John 3:20

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

It says that every one who does evil things hates the light, and does not come to the light, so that their deeds may not be discovered.  So anyone who does something evil (as God defines evil) hides it to keep others from finding out.  And they hate it when it becomes public, and people find out what they did.

Anyone who thinks about this probably realizes that it's true.  They know it when someone is always giving excuses, they did something they know is wrong.  Or when someone totally avoids talking about something, it's probably because they did something wrong.  If it was something good, they'd be glad to share it.

John 3:21

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

It says that anyone who does truth, they come to the light, so their deeds may be readily seen, that they are produced in God.

It's an interesting phrase to say that someone does truth.  How does someone do something true?  Or how do they work at something true?  I guess you could say that anyone who is using deception in any way, to get what they want, is not "doing truth."

And it seems to say that deeds of truth are formed and produced in (or by) God.  So, I guess you could say, the more you abide in God, the more true you will be.  And I think most people would agree that the less deception you are involved in, the more integrity you have.

Father in heaven, give us the grace, strength, and courage to always "do truth."

John 3:22

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

It says that, some time after Jesus talked with Nicodemus, Jesus and his disciples came to the area of Judæa.  Jesus spent time with his disciples there, and they baptized people.

So, Jesus hung out with his disciples.  I think it would have been pretty cool, and in some ways pretty weird, to hang out and talk with Jesus.  I imagine some of the ideas Jesus had seemed very strange to them.

And they spent time baptizing too, just like John (the Baptist).  I wonder what they said during the baptism.  Today when we baptize we say things to identify with Jesus' death and resurrection.

Lord, I pray that you would always give me time to hang out with you.

John 3:23

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

It says that John was also baptizing, in a place called Ænon, near Salim, because there was a good deal of water there.  And people came to John there, and they were baptized.

So Jesus and his disciples were baptizing at the same time as John, in different places.

I guess Ænon is not very close to the Jordan river, otherwise there would be no need to comment on the large amount of water there.

Again we get an indication, that what John had to say was very compelling, for people to come to him and be baptized.

John 3:24

24 For John was not yet cast into prison.

Seems to be yet another statement of fact.

John 3:25

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

It says a question came up between some of John's disciples and some Jews about purifying.

So there seems to have been some kind of debate between some of John's disciples and some other Jews.  And it entailed some question about purifying.  According to Numbers 19, a red heifer is burned and the ashes are mixed with water, and that ash-water mix is sprinkled on people, and objects, to purify them.

Evidently this purifying was important enough to them to argue about it.  And obviously people had different views on purifying.

John 3:26

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.

It says they came to John and said to him that the man, that was with John when he was on the other side of the Jordan river, that John testified about … that man is baptizing and everyone is coming to him.

So it seems that this group, which was having the debate about purifying, came to John.  I guess they thought he could clear things up.  And this debate seems to have something to do with Jesus and his disciples who were baptizing.  So they connected the idea of purifying with baptizing.

I wonder what it was, about Jesus and his disciples baptizing, that gave them trouble.

The problem seems to be that there is someone else baptizing and no one seems to have a problem coming to him.  Why would that present a problem?  Maybe they think that John and his disciples are the only ones that should be baptizing.  Maybe the next verses with help make this clearer.

John 3:27

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

It says that John replied to them, saying that a man cannot receive anything, unless it has been given to him from heaven.

So, if it has not been given from heaven, then you cannot receive it.  Or maybe a different way to say it, there is nothing for you to receive, if it's not been given from heaven.  Another odd way to say it … either it has not been given from heaven, or you can receive it.

Does it seem odd that it says it's a gift from heaven and not from God?  Heaven is the throne of God ( Matthew 5:34, Acts 7:49), so it's probably not that significant.

Interesting the way it says that you can receive the gift, or you are able to receive it, not that you are guaranteed to receive it.

It's also interesting that it says anything we receive.  So it would seem that even hardship is a gift from heaven.

Lord, even when things are hard, give me the grace and strength and courage to receive it as a gift from heaven.

John 3:28

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

John says that even they, his disciples and the Jews, testify of John, that he said that he is not the Messiah, but that he has been sent ahead of the Messiah.

OK, so there is this debate, between some of John's disciples and some Jews, about purifying; and they come to John with it, and tell him about Jesus and his disciples baptizing, and that everyone is coming to him.  The first thing John says is how everything a man receives, or that he is even able to receive, has been given from heaven.  And here, the next thing John says, he reminds them that they themselves have witnessed him saying that he is not the Messiah, but that he has been sent ahead of the Messiah.

I'm not really following his train of thought here.  I think I'll just have to hear what he says next and see if it becomes clearer.  So far, what I'm getting is: everything comes from heaven, and John says himself that he is not the Messiah.

John 3:29

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.

John continues, saying that he that has the bride is the groom.  But, he says, the friend of the groom, who stands and hears the groom, rejoices greatly because of the groom's voice.  So, John says, this joy of mine is fulfilled.

So John draws a comparison to the friend of a bridegroom; and starts out saying that the groom is the one with the bride.  Which seems to refer to when he says he is not the Messiah; so he is not the groom.  But the friend of the groom, who gets to stand with him and listen to him, rejoices greatly because of what he hears in the groom's voice.  And John says this is why his joy has been fulfilled.

So John seems to be saying that, as he said before, he is not the Messiah.  But like the friend of a bridegroom, he gets to stand with the Messiah.  And now that he gets to be with the Messiah and hear this voice, John says his joy is complete.

Lord, let us take the time to be with you so that we may hear your voice.

John 3:30

30 He must increase, but I must decrease.

John says that he, the groom, must increase, and John must decrease.

John seems to say that it is necessary and proper for Jesus to increase, and for me to decrease.  It's better this way; it's part of my joy.

In one sense it's almost ludicrous for John to say this, as if it would even be necessary.  Here he is, a created being, pointing to his creator, the God of all worlds, the creator of the universe, of billions of galaxies, of a mind boggling system of subatomic particles, and of this system of the human body with its vast array of incomprehensibly complex organs and chemical, muscular, skeletal, and bioelectric systems, the brain and eyes, and many other systems that we still don't understand; and he says that this huge God must increase and I must decrease … as if John's increase could even come close to a microscopic fraction of the level of God … as if there would be any way to stop His increase.

But in another sense, one that is perhaps more germane to our every day, it seems like the very least we should do is defer to Jesus and His wisdom, and recognize all that is due Him.

Lord help us always recognize that we owe everything to you.

John 3:31

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.

It says that he that comes from above is above all.  He that is of the earth is earthly and speaks of the earth.  And then it seems to repeat, that he that comes from heaven is above all.

At first it seems to make a sort of general statement that someone who comes from "above" is higher than anything; they are over everything.  And then it contrasts that with someone who is of the earth, saying they are earthly.  Which I take to be saying that, they think and talk of the things of earth, and act in an earthly way.  It seems to me that the vast majority of us do.

And then it repeats the statement about someone who is above all.  But this time it is that someone from heaven.  So someone who comes from "above", or from heaven, is above all.  Or maybe it means that "above" and heaven are to be considered equivalent.

John 3:32

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

It says that this someone, who comes from heaven, that is above all, he testifies of what he has seen and heard.  And no one receives his testimony.

Even though he tells of things he has seen and heard, nobody accepts what he says.  They all assume it is full of lies.  And, it would seem, they don't believe he is from heaven.  Despite the miracles, they don't believe him.

Lord, we don't have you walking through our town, in the flesh, doing miracles.  Give us eyes to see the truth and to see the lies, and save us from evil.

John 3:33

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

It says that someone, who has received the testimony of the one who comes from heaven, has set to his (own) seal that God is true.

It refers to a person who, at some point, has accepted whatever he (the one from heaven) has said, whatever he has testified to be true.  And that, back at that time, at the point when they first accepted what he said, that person "set to his seal" that God is true.

When I read the phrase "set to his seal", the word "seal" made me think of the phrase "seal the deal" or "sealed with a kiss."  It seems to refer to a tangible or visible expression of an agreement, or that those involved are in agreement concerning something.  So when it says "set to his seal", it's like the seal was already there, and this person's acceptance, of the testimony from heaven, set something on that seal.  It altered it in some way.  So now there is some kind of visible sign of their acceptance; there is something noticeably different about that person.

If you truly believe that what Jesus says is true, then it certainly will affect the way you make decisions.  Your actions will be noticeably different from what is most common in our society.  Jesus says to be good to your enemies (Luke 6:35).  He says that anyone who marries a divorced woman commits adultery (Matthew 5:32).  He says that slander is not just bad, it is evil (Matthew 15:19).  Most people in the world do the very opposite of these things.  And many not only defy what Jesus says, they actually advise others to go against Jesus, too.

It seems to say that when you look at this sign, this noticeable difference, you can actually see that this person is in agreement with this testimony, that God is true.  I think it would be very evident if your life was that different from society.

I was wondering what it means to say that God is true, so I looked up the word "true".  By definition, it means that God is real, he's genuine, he's true to his word, he's not deceitful, and he is faithful and steadfast, being the essential character of truthfulness.

Lord, help me live so that I reflect your truthfulness.

John 3:34

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

Referring to the previous statement, it says that it is so, because the one whom God has sent speaks the words of God; because God does not give the Spirit in measured amounts.

So this says to me, first, that God gives the Holy Spirit.  And He does so in full measure, not doling it out in limited amounts.  And with this full measure of the Holy Spirit, and because of the Spirit, anyone whom God sends speaks the words of God.

So, from the previous verse, if a person, whom God sends, speaks the words of God, and you accept what they say as the truth, then you have applied, if you will, your "seal of agreement", that God is true.

Lord, thank you for giving of your Spirit, and so fully.  And thank you for giving us your word.  Give us the grace and strength and courage to follow where your Spirit leads, and to heed your word.

John 3:35

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

It says that the Father loves the Son, and the Father has given everything into the hands of the Son.

So the first statement does not appear to contain any surprises; the Father loves the Son.  Though it is a bit interesting, since the Father and the Son (along with the Holy Spirit) are each part of (the same) God, that it is saying that one part of God loves another part of God.  I wonder if this is one of those aspects of us being made in the image of God; for we also love ourselves.

It would also seem that the Father trusts the Son completely, since the Father has handed over every single thing to the Son.  And everything likely includes a lot of things we can't even imagine.  It certainly includes you and me, and our personal well being.

For the Father to be able to hand everything over to the Son, it all must ultimately be under the control of the Father.  This would also seem to indicate that it is possible for the Father to control something, and for it not to be in the hands of the Son.

Lord, thank you for loving your Son.  I can't imagine what the world would be like, otherwise.

John 3:36

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.

It says that a person that believes on the Son has eternal life; and a person that does not believe the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God remains on that person.

So if you believe on the Son of God, you have eternal life.  Just like in John 3:15, it says you have it right now; it's not just something you will receive when you pass away from this physical life.  You already have this special "eternal life".  Living forever is just something that is included.

If you decide not to believe the Son of God, you will not see life.  Since we are obviously living, it must be referring to something particular when it says you won't "see life".  It's like it's saying that what we are living now is not life, not real life.  And if we don't believe the Son, we will never get to see real life.  We'll be stuck with this current life.  If it's not real life, you could say it's a "deadened" life.
And, worse than that, if you don't believe the Son, the wrath of God remains, or abides, on you.  This seems to indicate that, even before you make a decision to believe or not, the wrath of God is already on you.

I looked up the word "wrath".  It conveys the idea of anger or deep displeasure at something unjust or offensive  So, it would seem that God is angry or deeply displeased at how unjust and offensive we are to each other.  Since He created you, it would make sense that He would be angry or displeased when I do or say something unjust or offensive to you.

Lord, thank you for your grace and mercy, for forgiving me of so many wrongs against you and those you created.


Copyright © 2011-2012 John S. Nelson.  All rights reserved worldwide.