John 3

This devotional is written by Keith Tovey.

John 3

Jesus teaches Nicodemus
Now there was a Pharisee, a man named Nicodemus who was a member of the Jewish ruling council. 2 He came to Jesus at night and said, 'Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the signs you are doing if God were not with him.'

3 Jesus replied, 'Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.'

4 'How can someone be born when they are old?' Nicodemus asked. 'Surely they cannot enter a second time into their mother's womb to be born!'

5 Jesus answered, 'Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. 6 Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. 7 You should not be surprised at my saying, "You must be born again." 8 The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.'

9 'How can this be?' Nicodemus asked.

10 'You are Israel's teacher,' said Jesus, 'and do you not understand these things? 11 Very truly I tell you, we speak of what we know, and we testify to what we have seen, but still you people do not accept our testimony. 12 I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things? 13 No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came 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 that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.'

16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall 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 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God's one and only Son. 19 This is the verdict: light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. 20 Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. 21 But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.

John testifies again about Jesus
22 After this, Jesus and his disciples went out into the Judean countryside, where he spent some time with them, and baptised. 23 Now John also was baptising at Aenon near Salim, because there was plenty of water, and people were coming and being baptised. 24 (This was before John was put in prison.) 25 An argument developed between some of John's disciples and a certain Jew over the matter of ceremonial washing. 26 They came to John and said to him, 'Rabbi, that man who was with you on the other side of the Jordan - the one you testified about - look, he is baptising, and everyone is going to him.'

27 To this John replied, 'A person can receive only what is given them from heaven. 28 You yourselves can testify that I said, "I am not the Messiah but am sent ahead of him." 29 The bride belongs to the bridegroom. The friend who attends the bridegroom waits and listens for him, and is full of joy when he hears the bridegroom's voice. That joy is mine, and it is now complete. 30 He must become greater; I must become less.'

31 The one who comes from above is above all; the one who is from the earth belongs to the earth, and speaks as one from the earth. The one who comes from heaven is above all. 32 He testifies to what he has seen and heard, but no one accepts his testimony. 33 Whoever has accepted it has certified that God is truthful. 34 For the one whom God has sent speaks the words of God, for God gives the Spirit without limit. 35 The Father loves the Son and has placed everything in his hands. 36 Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God's wrath remains on them.

Reflection

I think back to when I was a kid; my imagination was running wild. Stuffed animals could come alive and in many cases the floor was made of lava. Back then it didn't take much to believe it. But as I grew up, I began to be hardened, by reality, sceptical of the world around me, a world that very much felt like was trying to hurt me, to bring me down, to conform.

And in this chapter Jesus is talking to a sceptical Nicodemus, who just like me, was in the thick of it. He was trying to wrap his head around the miracles performed by Jesus. But how? The world has taught us there's an explanation for everything. And if you can 'see' it, it was 'true'.

Here Jesus points out a difference between earthly things and Heavenly things. A tug of war between something that is and something that is to come. Or perhaps something we have always known and something better than we could ever fathom. For Nicodemus, and for many still today, there is comfort in what we know. But it is breaking past this where we can experience God more fully.

In response to this scepticism, Jesus compares the Holy Spirit to the wind. Wind is something we can't see; something we can't always feel. Through storms we can see its power and in some cases its devastating effect. Even with our doors firmly shut it always finds a way in. The Holy Spirit acts in similar ways. Like air, He fills us and restores us.

The Holy Spirit is and was always there if we knew it or not. It is the Holy Spirit who brought us towards Jesus. But it's when we decide to let go of our stronghold on what we have known and letting the Spirit take us where He needs us that we see His goodness more clearly. With that we are carried by the wind and the Holy Spirit can become more visible to the uncertain around us. God uses us as vessels to do His work, to put it into words, and to share His goodness. Through us the Spirit can blow through a sceptical world, and may we leave an amazing devastation of kindness, truth, grace, and love behind us.

Father,
Help me to let go of Earthly things. Help me to relinquish my hold on needing the answer and be lifted up by you, knowing that you are the real truth and that you will carry me in the right direction.
Allow me to be a vessel for the Spirit. Take me where you need light in darkness so that I might reveal your grace, making your Spirit more visible to those hardened by this world. Thank you for pursuing me, for always being there, for restoring me. Thank you for allowing me to see heavenly things, for giving me hope and an everlasting life in you.

Amen.

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