Read John 3:1-21
Nicodemus was a man with a seeking heart. Despite his status as “a ruler of the Jews” (John 3:1), he still recognized not only the power of Jesus, but the source of His power. He told the Lord, “Rabbi, we know that You are a teacher come from God; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him” (John 3:2).
Jesus seized this opportunity to teach Nicodemus salient truth. He plainly stated, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3). Despite the many objections from modern-day religionists, this is a clear reference to baptism. After further questioning from the Pharisee, Jesus explained, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God” (John 3:5).
As one reads through the New Testament, it becomes clear that one must die to his sins and become a new creature in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17). The apostle Paul describes this process in his epistle to the church at Rome. “Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:3-4).
Christian baptism is a reenactment of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Himself. We die to sin, we are buried in water, and we are raised out of that water a new creation committed to following His will. The Scriptures connect baptism and salvation on several occasions. Read Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; 22:16; Romans 6:3-4; Galatians 3:27; 1 Peter 3:21. To deny the connection between baptism and salvation is to deny the revelation of God through the inspired penmen of the New Testament.
Have you been born again? Have you been buried in the waters of baptism for the remission of sins by the authority of Jesus Christ?
Read John 3:22-36
Humility Leads To Obedient Faith
John’s disciples were concerned. They had heard what their teacher said about the Christ, but then Jesus arrived on the scene and started to become more popular than John. “Rabbi, He who was with you beyond the Jordan, to whom you have testified—behold, He is baptizing, and all are coming to Him!” (John 3:26). Many have attributed the reaction of John’s disciples to an attitude of jealousy.
John’s reaction was quite different, however. He never claimed to be the Christ; rather, he denied it when directly asked (John 3:27-28; 1:19-20). The departure of his students did not bother him; neither did the growing crowds that Jesus attracted. John recognized that it was all a part of God’s plan. “A man can receive nothing unless it has been given to him from heaven” (John 3:27).
One of the greatest displays of humility in the Scriptures is found in John 3:30: “He must increase, but I must decrease.” We must take on this attitude in our lives. When we commit to God’s will, we should see an increase of Christ in our lives and a decrease of our own desires. The apostle Paul preached a presentation of our bodies as “a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God” and that we should be “transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God” (Romans 12:1-2). At some point, we must realize that it is not about “me”; it is about Him!
It is about “the bridegroom’s voice” (John 3:29), not ours. It is about “His testimony” (John 3:32-33). “He who comes from above is above all; he who is of the earth is earthly and speaks of the earth. He who comes from heaven is above all” (John 3:31). Jesus has the authority, but do we exalt Him as the one with authority in our lives?
Far too many pay lip service to God, saying they believe in the Son but denying that claim with their behavior. “He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him” (John 3:36). Compare that verse in other translations, and you will see that it is an obedient faith under consideration; the phrase “does not believe” (NKJV) is translated “does not obey” (ESV, NASB) or “obeyeth not” (ASV). Do you believe? Do you obey?
Day 213/260: Read John 3
It is not Jesus’ desire that any man should spend eternity in everlasting punishment separated from the Father. Peter wrote, “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).
Jesus told Nicodemus, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God di not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.”
Man is already condemned, separated from God. That is not God’s fault, not by any stretch of the imagination. Rather, it is man who has chosen to be separated by iniquity. Jesus’ mission was not to tell man that he was lost, but rather provide for man a path to reconciliation with the Father. And He did that because He loved man.
Why did my Savior come to earth
And to the humble God?
Why did He choose a lowly birth?
Because He loved me so!
Memory (Fill in the blanks)
John 1:1. In the beginning was the ________________, and the ________________ was with God, and the ________________ was God.
Pray for a greater appreciation of Christ’s marvelous love.
“HE MUST INCREASE, BUT I MUST DECREASE” // John 3:22-36
I. John vs. Jesus?
A. Jesus and His disciples baptizing in Judea (John 3:22)
1. Judea/Jerusalem was the starting point for the spread of the gospel, as Jesus later commissioned the apostles (Luke 24:47; Acts 1:8)
2. “This Gospel gives the Judean ministry of Christ, almost totally omitted by the synoptics….occurred before John the Baptist was cast into prison, a fact John stressed, thus making it very early in the Lord’s ministry.” (Coffman, John)
3. Jesus Himself did not baptize anyone (John 4:2). “There was Divine wisdom in this. The apostle Paul was forced to contend with division in the Corinthian church a few years later which had resulted from certain Christians taking pride in having been baptized by certain preachers and apostles (cf. I Cor. 1:14ff).” (Butler, John)
4. This was the same baptism that John was administering, with a view toward Christ’s death and resurrection
a. New Testament baptism was not preached and practiced until the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2) and thereafter
b. New Testament baptism mirrors the death, burial, and resurrection of our Lord (Romans 6:3-6)
B. John baptizing in Aenon near Salim (John 3:23)
1. The exact geographical location is unknown today
2. However, the purpose of the location is given: “because there was much water there”
3. If baptism could be acceptably administered by sprinkling or pouring, there would have been no need for “much water”
4. “Immersion is the ceremony recognized as baptism by Christ and the apostles; and the appearance of other actions called baptism in the historical church should not obscure this fact.” (Coffman, John)
5. “It would be well to pause here and define the word baptize. Every Greek Lexicon of any repute defines baptize as having a primary meaning of ‘dip, plunge, immerse, submerge.’ In the Greek language (the original language of the New Testament) this word baptize can never mean sprinkle or pour. It is to be feared that the translators of our English versions of the Bible have allowed religious prejudices to guide their translating. It is interesting to note how these translators contradict themselves. In II King 5:14 our English translators have rendered the verse thusly: ‘Then went he down and dipped himself seven times in the Jordan…’ (speaking of Naaman and his cure of leprosy). The amazing fact is that they interpreted the word baptize, here used in the Septuagint, to mean dipped. When these scholars came to the New Testament they merely transliterated (change of characters of one alphabet to corresponding characters of another alphabet) the word baptize. ‘Consistency, thou art a gem!’” (Butler, John)
C. The dispute (John 3:25-26)
1. The precise question is not known, only that it had to do with “purification”
2. “Verse 25 informs us of John the Baptist’s disciples beginning a disputation or argument with a Jew (probably one who favored Jesus and His ministry) over the question of cleansing. From verse 26 it seems the whole disputation was over the authority and cleansing efficacy of the two baptisms. The disciples of John began the controversy and probably challenged the Jew because he had been baptized by Jesus’ disciples. That Jesus could baptize without consulting John they could not understand, and undoubtedly argued that the Jew had not been purified or cleansed because he had not been baptized by John.” (Butler, John)
3. Many commentators (Coffman, Lipscomb, Johnson, and Butler all included) attribute John’s disciples’ attitude to jealousy
4. “They seem to have grown somewhat jealous that the masses were leaving John to follow Jesus.” (Lipscomb,
II. John’s response to his disciples
A. John reaffirms his own identity as “not the Christ” (John 3:27-28; cf. John 1:19-20)
1. “To see his great popularity and influence gradually waning, and another coming up to take his place, was well calculated to arouse jealousy. But John, in the spirit of his mission, rose to a sublime superiority over carnal weakness. He declares, first, that what he is, and what Jesus is, is due to the will of heaven. Each will till his appointed mission ‘given him from heaven.’ Next, he cites his own words before spoken, of which they were witnesses, in which he declared that he was not the Christ, but only the messenger who went before the King to prepare his way. The superiority of Jesus was only what he himself had predicted.” (Johnson, John)
2. John’s words in verse 27 “are true in two senses. Jesus could not have enjoyed such widespread success unless God had given it; and John’s decline could not have occurred unless the Lord had willed it.” (Coffman, John)
B. The marriage analogy (John 3:29)
1. Used in Old Testament (Isaiah 54:5; Hosea 2:16,19-20)
2. Used in New Testament (Ephesians 5:25-27,32; Revelation 21:2,9; 22:17)
3. John rejoiced (cf. Romans 12:15)
C. John’s humility on full display (John 3:30)
1. Christ’s work was to build His church (Matthew 16:18-19)
2. His kingdom was such that “shall never be destroyed…and it shall stand forever” (Daniel 2:44)
3. John’s mission as the way preparer was drawing to a close
4. “These last words of John are in the spirit of Christian sacrifice and are a fitting close of his work.” (Johnson, John)
5. Paul wrote, “I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase.” (1 Corinthians 3:6)
III. John’s exaltation of the Son of God
A. Christ—as “He who comes from heaven”—has supreme authority (John 3:31)
1. While John’s mission and message was from above, he himself was fully human, in contrast to Jesus who was God in the flesh (John 1:14; Romans 8:3; 1 Timothy 3:16; 1 John 4:2)
2. Since Jesus Himself (not merely His message) was from heaven, He has authority over all (cf. Matthew 28:18)
B. The majority’s rejection of Christ’s testimony (John 3:32)
1. “No one” is hyperbolic, as shown by the next verse – there were some who “received His testimony” (John 3:33)
2. While we are told on other occasions that “great multitudes came to Him” (Matthew 15:30), it is evident from further examination that not all remained interested in His doctrine
3. The parable of the sower shows the reasons why some fall away after being taught the truth (Luke 8:4-15)
4. Jesus taught on the Sermon on the Mount that few would follow the way leading to life (Matthew 7:13-14)
C. The truth of the Father (John 3:33-34; cf. 1 John 5:10)
D. The love of the Father (John 3:35; cf. Matthew 3:17)
E. The importance of belief (John 3:36)
1. Obedient faith: second half is translated “does not believe” in NKJV; “does not obey” in ESV, NASB; “obeyeth not” in ASV
2. “At issue is how to properly translate the single Greek word apeitheo that is found in John 3:36. This term can be translated as either ‘unbelief’ or ‘disobedience.’ To illustrate, the KJV translates the same word, apeitheo, as ‘disobedience’ in other places, such as 1 Peter 3:1 (‘obey not’); and Romans 2:8 (‘do not obey’).” (Ankerberg and Burroughs, Taking a Stand for the Bible)
3. “In all instances, it is an OBEDIENT FAITH that is meant, and never is some special quality of faith apart from obedience intended. Salvation by ‘faith alone’ is an erroneous tenet of human creeds, but it is not the teaching of God’s word. He who does not obey the Son, in the practical sense, is an unbeliever; and all faith, of whatever degree, is dead without obedience.” (Coffman, John)
4. Everyone has a choice to make – believe or do not believe/obey (John 3:36); narrow or wide gate (Matthew 7:13-14); light or darkness (John 12:46; 2 Corinthians 6:14); righteous or lawless (2 Corinthians 6:14); transformed by the renewing of your mind or conformed to this world (Romans 12:2)
5. We will be judged by the choices we make (John 12:48; 2 Corinthians 5:10)