In John chapter three, we find a Pharisee named Nicodemus coming to speak with Jesus. Nicodemus believed that Jesus had come from God, but was unable or unwilling to believe that Jesus is the Son of God. Jesus didn’t waste any time getting to the point of the conversation telling Nicodemus that if you are not born again then you cannot see the kingdom of God. This was a mystery to Nicodemus and we are never told if he ever did come to the point of faith in Jesus Christ. In John 7:50-51, we see that Nicodemus did not agree with unlawfully arresting Jesus. We are also told that after Jesus was crucified he help in giving Jesus a proper Jewish burial John 19:39. Does this mean that Nicodemus came to the point of belief leading to salvation? We are never told in the Bible but it would seem that he did have some belief or at least respect for Jesus. Since the scriptures never tell us; it is better to leave it between Nicodemus and God; because God knows the heart of every man. The story of Nicodemus’ nighttime visit and Jesus’ explanation of the means of salvation is the theme of chapter three. That it is Jesus, the One from heaven, that was to be lifted up for our sins, and all that believe in Him will be born again of water and Spirit.
Most of the time, when we think of John chapter three, the verse that we will all think of is John 3:16
“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.” John 3:16 HCSB (https://www.bible.com/72/jhn.3.16.hcsb)
John 3:16 is probably the most well-known verse in all of the Bible. If you have ever watched the NFL or any other professional sports on tv, then you have probably seen someone holding up a sign that reads “John 3:16.” The world seems to be ok with John 3:16 because it tells about how God loves us, gives us the Son, and eternal life. The world is ok with all of this, but they don’t want to keep reading.
“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. “This, then, is the judgment: The light has come into the world, and people loved darkness rather than the light because their deeds were evil. For everyone who practices wicked things hates the light and avoids it, so that his deeds may not be exposed.”
John 3:18-20 HCSB (https://www.bible.com/72/jhn.3.18-20.hcsb)
The world doesn’t care too much for verses 18-20 because these verses talk about our responsibility to respond to God’s love. As long as we stand up and say that God is love, the world will love our message. When we get to where they have to choose between the light and the darkness, the world chooses the darkness; which is their right. The problem is that they get angry and sometimes hostile when they realize that their unbelief condemns them. They will say things like how could a loving God send away to hell. The answer is that God doesn’t send anyone to hell. What? Let me say it again. God doesn’t send anyone to hell. No, I do not believe in universal salvation. If you reject Jesus, then you choose to go to hell. This is made clear in verses 18-20. If you believe, then you are not condemned. If you do not believe, then you are already condemned; because of your choice to reject Jesus. The reason that people reject Jesus is that they love wickedness. Those who love wickedness will avoid the light of Christ. It is by choice that one decides to go to hell; not by force. In all of this God is still love, because of God’s love for you; He isn’t going to force you to be with Him for all of eternity.
John 3 is to be a chapter of hope because it shows the way we can have eternal life by accepting the One that God has sent to be lifted up for our sins. What is hope and life for those that believe is also hopelessness and death for those that reject. Thank you, God, for sending Jesus into the world to pay our debt and help us all receive Christ and hate the wickedness of this world.
Questions for reflection:
Nicodemus had some amount of belief or at least respect for Jesus, but something kept him from taking the next step of complete belief and acceptance of Jesus. Perhaps he was afraid of what it would cost him. Is there anything in your life keeping you from accepting Jesus?
Reflect on the greatness of God’s love and thank Him for His Son and salvation.