Morning Devotions: John 3
I greet you in the wonderland name of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ this morning.
It is really early. I'm going to read God's Word with you, explain some of the meaning of the Word, apply it, and then I'm going to pray with you.
John 3 Christian Standard Bible (CSB)
3 There was a man from the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. 2 This man came to him at night and said, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God, for no one could perform these signs you do unless God were with him.” 3 Jesus replied, “Truly I tell you, unless someone is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” 4 “How can anyone be born when he is old?” Nicodemus asked him. “Can he enter his mother’s womb a second time and be born?” 5 Jesus answered, “Truly I tell you, unless someone is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. 6 Whatever is born of the flesh is flesh, and whatever is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 Do not be amazed that I told you that you must be born again. 8 The wind blows where it pleases, and you hear its sound, but you don’t know where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.” 9 “How can these things be?” asked Nicodemus.10 “Are you a teacher of Israel and don’t know these things?” Jesus replied. 11 “Truly I tell you, we speak what we know and we testify to what we have seen, but you do not accept our testimony. 12 If I have told you about earthly things and you don’t believe, how will you believe if I tell you about heavenly things? 13 No one has ascended into heaven except the one who descended from heaven —the Son of Man. 14 “Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, 15 so that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life. 16 For God loved the world in this way: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18 Anyone who believes in him is not condemned, but anyone who does not believe is already condemned, because he has not believed in the name of the one and only Son of God. 19 This is the judgment: The light has come into the world, and people loved darkness rather than the light because their deeds were evil. 20 For everyone who does evil hates the light and avoids it, so that his deeds may not be exposed. 21 But anyone who lives by the truth comes to the light, so that his works may be shown to be accomplished by God.” 22 After this, Jesus and his disciples went to the Judean countryside, where he spent time with them and baptized. 23 John also was baptizing in Aenon near Salim, because there was plenty of water there. People were coming and being baptized, 24 since John had not yet been thrown into prison. 25 Then a dispute arose between John’s disciples and a Jew about purification. 26 So they came to John and told him, “Rabbi, the one you testified about, and who was with you across the Jordan, is baptizing—and everyone is going to him.” 27 John responded, “No one can receive anything unless it has been given to him from heaven. 28 You yourselves can testify that I said, ‘I am not the Messiah, but I’ve been sent ahead of him.’ 29 He who has the bride is the groom. But the groom’s friend, who stands by and listens for him, rejoices greatly at the groom’s voice. So this joy of mine is complete. 30 He must increase, but I must decrease.” 31 The one who comes from above is above all. The one who is from the earth is earthly and speaks in earthly terms. The one who comes from heaven is above all. 32 He testifies to what he has seen and heard, and yet no one accepts his testimony. 33 The one who has accepted his testimony has affirmed that God is true. 34 For the one whom God sent speaks God’s words, since he gives the Spirit without measure. 35 The Father loves the Son and has given all things into his hands. 36 The one who believes in the Son has eternal life, but the one who rejects the Son will not see life; instead, the wrath of God remains on him.
Summarizing John 3 can be done by looking at a repeated word, the word must.
The First Must
It appears for the first time in verse 7 when we read, "do not be amazed that, I told you that you must be born again." The words born again literally means born from above. Nicodemus needed a real changing. He needed a heart change. He needed a spiritual transformation. Being a religious Pharisee and a Jew wasn't good enough. He needed a change of heart!
Why must we be born again? Because we are by nature are sinful and full of trespasses. This separates us from a Holy God. We need a way to be reconciled to Him. The only way is by having a changed heart which comes from God himself.
The Second Must
The second must can be read in verse 14. “Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, so that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.” This idea of Moses lifting up the snake is talking about is Old Testament Narrative where a snake was lifted up and people who gazed upon the snake exercised faith, were saved from a plague. So too, Jesus Christ must be lifted up so that everyone who gazes upon Him metaphorically might be saved from the plague of sin. He must be lifted up. This is God's intended way that man might be saved.
It says that that those who believe. Believe is synonymous with faith. It is trusting that Jesus Christ's work on the cross is a finished work, that we need to add nothing to. It is to repent from our sins and put our faith and our trust in Him. So, those who believe will have eternal life! The words eternal life have two aspects to them: a quantitative and a qualitative aspect. Quantitatively, we might speak of perpetual life; life forever and ever into eternity to come. Qualitatively, we might speak about abundant life, fullness of life and richness of life, in this life, as well as in the life to come.
The third Must
The third must is found in verse 30 where we read that "he must Increase." John the Baptist is replying to his disciples. Who come to Him and say, Jesus Christ is baptizing more people than you. What's going on here? He says, well, “He must increase.” The Sovereign must increase.
John Piper sums this up by saying, "When Jesus increases, joy increases. The bridegroom is getting all the attention. The cameras are all flashing in that direction. The rice is all flying in that direction. The honeymoon is in that direction.” And so John's joy is complete.
The fourth Must
The final must appears just after that. Again in verse 30, "He must increase but I must decrease." This must is the servants must. It is John's godly response to the elevation of Jesus as the Christ and as the Messiah. John recognizes that increasingly, he needs to disappear into the background.
How do we go about applying John chapter 3 into our lives? Well first, if you're reading this this morning, and you are an unbeliever, you need to hear those words ringing in your ears, "you must be born again." Appealing to John chapter 3 verse 16, those famous words for “…God loved the world in this way that he gave his one and only son so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.” Precisely because Jesus died on a cross for our sins, and because God gave His only Son that we might be saved, means that you can be saved. You can turn from your sins this day and put your faith and your trust in Him.
There's a warning in the text to you though, a warning of urgency. John chapter 3:36 reads, "the one who believes in the son has eternal life, but the one who rejects the son will not see life. Instead the wrath of God remains on him." The wrath of God remains on him in this life and into eternity to come, should you not turn from your sins this day and believe in Jesus Christ and experience eternal life in His name.
If you are a seeker here today, then the picture of Nicodemus coming to Jesus Christ at night may be fearful that others would see him, becomes a good picture for you of seeking God through the person of Jesus Christ. You see Nicodemus' story isn't finished in John 3. As we go through the pages of scripture, we read of Christ's life, ministry and death.
At the point of Christ’s death, we read in John 19:39, we read that it is Nicodemus who had previously come to Him at night, who came and bought a mixture of about 75 pounds of myrrh and aloes. Nicodemus was there at the end as a disciple of Jesus Christ. He was somebody who loved Jesus and was involved in His burial.
If you are seeking Jesus, if you are seeking God, you can find God through the person of Jesus Christ, the Son who's the fullness of deity in the revelation of God to man.
If you're a backslider reading this, there's a dire warning in the text to you. Just after those very famous words in John 3:16;17;18. We read in verse 19 and 20 that "this is the Judgment, the light has come into the world and the people loved darkness rather than the light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone who does evil hates the light and avoids it, so that his deeds may not be exposed." If you are living in willful flagrant sin, and if you are flattening your sin before man, and before God, you need to know that your needs will one day be exposed and the exposure of your deeds will also be the exposure of your heart. You are to repent of sin. You ought to once again put your faith and trust in Jesus Christ and walk along paths of righteousness by the power of His Spirit moving within you.
If you are a believer in Reading John 3, I want to leave you with those words of John the Baptist. "I must decrease". Friends, in truth, this life is to be lived to the glory of God and Enjoyment thereof; that is the chief-end of man. The Christian Life is a life of increasingly, decreasing and, increasingly elevating Jesus Christ in all that we do. That means that we Elevate Jesus Christ with our time, treasure, talent and testimony. With our time; devoting ourselves to Him. With our treasure; giving what He gives to us, to Him for the extension of His kingdom. With our talents; serving Him and serving His people in the church. And then without testimony; speaking the truth that Jesus came into this world and died for Sinners. That he rose from the grave and that all men are called upon to repent for the forgiveness of sins, living that testimony at that, we who have professed His name before a watching World. Let me pray with you in closing.
Father God, as we read this text today, once again, we are struck by the, beauty the majesty and the splendour of Jesus Christ. Truly He is the Son of God. Would you awaken in our hearts an increasing revelation of who He is, an increasing admiration of who He is, and an increasing affection for who He is to us that we might live our Lives to His praise into His glory. These things I pray in the wonderful name of Jesus Christ, amen. May God richly bless you.