Review (chapter 1 in a nutshell): God our creator has shared his life with us through His Word. God is recreating willing vessels who will receive that Word and live a grace-driven life. God by His grace has come in the flesh as the Lamb of God to take away sin and the Son of God to give the gift of the Holy Spirit. The invitation is that we would “come and see,” that is, to take part in this life by the power of the Holy Spirit as we witness His glory, with the future hope of the revealing of His everlasting dominion.
vs. 1-2, A wedding in Cana of Galilee which Jesus, his disciples, and “his mother” are invited to
vs. 3…The “mother of Jesus” comes to Jesus when they run out of wine
vs. 4…Jesus replies, “my hour has not yet come.”
vs. 5…”His mother” tells the servants to do whatever Jesus tells them.
vs. 6-8…Jesus tells servants to fill up water pots used for “Jewish custom of purification” then draw some and and take it to the headwaiter
vs. 9-10…the water had become wine, and the headwaiter recognizes it as the best tasting wine of the day.
vs. 11…This was the first of Jesus’ signs. He manifested His glory. His disciples believed in Him.
vs. 12…Jesus goes down to Capernaum for a few days with “his mother, his brothers, and his disciples.”
vs. 13…Jesus went to Jerusalem in time for the Passover.
vs. 14…He found people selling animals for sacrifice in the temple.
vs. 15-16…Jesus drives out the money changers and the livestock. To the sellers of doves he says “stop making my Father’s house a place of business.”
vs. 17…His disciples were reminded of an OT Scripture when seeing this.
—Specifically, “Zeal for Your House will consume me.”
vs. 18…The Jews are asking for a sign of Jesus’ authority.
vs. 19…:Jesus: “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.”
vs. 20-22…Jews thinking he is speaking of physical building, but He was talking about His body—something which his disciples realized in hindsight. Upon the sign of being raised from the dead, his disciples believed the Scriptures and Jesus’ word.
vs. 23…Many believed in Jesus during the Passover, given the signs he was performing.
vs. 24-25…Jesus not entrusting Himself to people because “he knew all men” (plural) and “knew what was in a man” (singular).
vs. 1-3…”His mother…” Much like John the apostle who simply refers to himself throughout as “the disciple whom Jesus loved,” and like John the Baptist who says he is unworthy compared to Jesus, Mary is downplayed. Her significance is only that she is related to Jesus.
vs.3-4…Jesus and his mother both knew what he was able to do and, more importantly, who He was. “My hour has not yet come…” It was not the time for his death, resurrection and exaltation. While the promise of the Messianic kingdom includes “abundant wine,” Christ’s atoning death and resurrection had to be accomplished first.
vs. 5…Mary’s command: do what Jesus tells you. She recognized Him as Lord (Luke 1:26-35).
vs. 6-8…”jewish custom of purification.” Jesus’ cleansing work is permanent and transformative, unlike the Jewish traditions.
vs. 9-11… There is new life in the wine, just as Christ offers new life—the best one—HIS.
vs. 12…Jesus’ brothers are also now with Him. They must have been convinced of who Jesus is. “The disciples” also refers to more than just the 12. Jesus often had a large crowd following Him wherever He went.
vs. 13…The Passover in Jerusalem…*See “Christ in the OT Festivals” handout.*
vs. 14-16…driving out the “marketplace” from the “Father’s house.” The temple a more permanent dwelling of God than the tabernacle, but still merely foreshadowed Christ Himself.
vs. 17…Psalm 69:9…JESUS’ PASSION FOR REVERENCE.
vs. 18-19…the sign which the Jews will be shown is Jesus’ death and resurrection. THE CROSS as a sign. THE RESURRECTION as a sign.
vs. 22…The Scripture and Jesus’ words are equally authoritative! The proof of that is that He indeed rose from the dead. Also, the Scriptures all speak to the Messiah achieving victory through atoning death and resurrection—not just an earthly conquering king as many supposed. Jesus’ POWER OF RESURRECTION.
vs. 23…Many believed because of the signs, unlike his disciples such as Nathanael who believed because of what kind of person He was and that His words were consistent with Scripture.
vs. 24…”Men” refers to all the individuals. Just like He had proven in the previous chapter that he knew the individuals whom He had called. He was not entrusting himself—that is the full revelation of His glory—to those who were not looking for Him, unlike the disciples.
vs. 25…”What was in a man” refers to the natural condition of man. can be seen in the Pharisees who merely sent a delegation—PROUD. Can also be seen in the moneychangers—GREEDY. Can also be seen in those buying and offering sacrifices—HYPOCRITES. They see God as someone to appease based on their performance/offering. Again, “men love the darkness,” which is their natural way of life, ways of the world and ways of our enemy, satan. “What was in a man” will be fleshed out more in the dialogue to come (John 3:19). Men are fickle. They only believed because they saw results/outward displays of power. Those who only look at the outward miss seeing Jesus’ glory. Jesus had the proper PERCEPTION OF REALITY.
Jesus’ glory is seen only by those who seek Him—not self gratification. True disciples’ hearts are enraptured with the words of our Lord, the words of Scripture, when He proves Himself in this physical realm. The message is “Life in His name,” (20:31) which requires leaving the old life as the disciples in chapter 1 did. We have hope as we look to the power of His resurrection to overcome the reality of our condition (pride, greed, hypocrisy).
Do I have the same Passion for Reverence which Jesus (and David) has?
How have I seen the Lord proving Himself in my life and the world around me? Do I experience the cross and resurrection daily (Power of Resurrection)? (Paul’s example: Phil. 3:7-11)
How am I living a life of pride, greed or hypocrisy? ( Do I have Jesus same Perception of Reality?) Jesus has given power to overcome that.
Has the power to overcome directed me to the message of Scripture, “life in His name,”(by denying self) or something self-gratifying? Perhaps I need to check my understanding if the latter…
Review: Chapter 2 showed Jesus turn water into wine and clear the temple during the passover. The Lamb of God came to the temple to see who were seeking God for the new life He offers. His disciples had been looking and recognized Him when the saw Him (Chapter 1). Those who do likewise will behold his glory, even now. “What was in man” is pride, greed and hypocrisy—a self-sufficient and self-gratifying life. Those who recognize Jesus as Son of Man (everlasting dominion) and Lamb of God (atonement for sins) leave their old, worthless life behind.
John 3: 1-21
vs. 1-2…Nicodemus, a “ruler of the Jews”—a Pharisee—came to Jesus at night.
-He addresses Jesus as “Rabbi,” that is, teacher, and acknowledges that he is sent from God. He is wondering what Jesus is teaching, having observed the signs (ch. 2).
vs. 3…Jesus tells Nicodemus the whole message of His ministry in a simple statement: “unless one is born again he cannot enter the kingdom of God.”
vs. 4…Nicodemus doesn’t understand the statement. Natural birth is what came to his mind.
vs. 5…Jesus clarifies—must be born “of water and Spirit” to enter kingdom of God.
vs. 6…that which is born of flesh is flesh, and that which is born of Spirit is spirit. Two different births beget different types of people.
vs. 7…”do not be amazed” implies that Nicodemus was amazed.
vs. 8…Just like they could not understand the path of the wind, so the one born of the Spirit also cannot be understood.
vs. 9-11…Nicodemus doubts, and Jesus points out Nicodemus’s rejection of the “testimony.”
vs. 12…How will you believe heavenly teaching if you don’t believe earthly teaching?
vs. 13…Jesus once again claiming the title “Son of Man” and pointing out that He is the only man on earth who has been in heaven.
vs. 14-15…As Moses lifted up the serpent, so the Son of Man must be lifted up to give eternal life to whoever believes.
vs. 16…God in his love has made eternal life available to the whole world.
vs. 17…The Son was not sent to judge the world but to save it.
vs. 18…Those who believe are not judged. Those who do not believe in the name of the only begotten Son of God are already judged.
vs. 19…the judgement is that men loved darkness rather than the Light. Evidence of that is that “their deeds were evil.”
vs. 20…those who do evil hate the Light because they don’t want to be proven they are evil.
vs. 21…Those who practice truth come to the Light. The purpose
Interpretation / Correlation
vs. 1-2…Nicodemus was somewhat ashamed/proud (came at night), yet showed more humility than other Pharisees. He wants to be taught, so he came to Jesus.
vs. 3…The first birth does not make one worthy. Nothing you can do—you need a new life
vs. 4…We don’t have understanding of new life apart from Jesus explaining to us.
vs. 5-6…Born of water refers to natural birth (amniotic fluid). Can’t be spiritual if you have only experienced natural birth.
vs. 7…Nicodemus was amazed at the spiritual nature of the message of the kingdom.
vs. 8…I won’t understand my own life—“where it comes from or where it is going.” Only God knows.
vs. 9-11…Jesus interpretation of Israel’s history—and the history of creation—is different than Nicodemus.’ Jesus pointed out Nicodemus’ hardness of heart. The “testimony” is that of John the Baptist: God is making this message of true LIFE available to all, which John was to share with his life (ch. 1:6-8).
vs. 12…There is a greater meaning beyond even what Jesus has taught regarding being born of the Spirit. The “earthly things” are the taking away of the sin of the world. They did not see Jesus as the one who could be the once-for-all sacrifice as the Lamb of God. The “heavenly things” are the experience of eternal life through the baptism of the Holy Spirit. This goes beyond the mere Jewish understanding of the Messiah who would be a natural king to establish an everlasting earthly kingdom. They had no concept of the Messiah as being God Himself.
vs. 13…Like Jesus alluded to in ch. 1:51, Jesus claiming the title “Son of Man”—the one with everlasting dominion (see Daniel 7)—and the fact that he is the one who offers direct access to God. This also reminds us of his humility in becoming like us (man) —See Phil. 2:5-11. GOD ALMIGHTY MADE HIMSELF NOTHING FOR US.
vs. 14…”As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness” is an allusion to Numbers 21:5-9…The people spoke against God, complaining about no food or water despite God’s miraculous deliverance from their enemies and provision of manna. What God provided for them was not good enough. The fiery serpents were a picture of the peoples’ nature—like satan. The serpent on a standard was a picture for them: put your natural desires and rebellious nature to death and be healed. To look upon it was to see one’s own condition. Similarly, we look to Christ.
-The Son of Man must be lifted up…Jesus is interpreting “Son of Man” (Daniel 7:13-18). The Jewish understanding was one of a conquering king whose victory they would share in. This would have turned Nicodemus’ understanding upside down. Jesus not only made Himself a man, but made himself the object of God’s wrath to bind forever the work of satan.
vs. 15…Eternal life is available to “whoever believes.” To believe in Christ, in the context, means that I accept He is the one who took the punishment I deserve so I can escape God’s wrath. I recognize His authority in giving access to God and his everlasting dominion to which all nations will be held accountable. The eternal life is experienced through being born again—or baptized—by the Holy Spirit.
vs. 16…This is all an act of God’s love. The snake on a stick foreshadowed Jesus on the cross. The snake healed the disease, but the fiery serpents were still present. They had to continue to look to the snake; likewise, we must continue to look to Jesus to overcome. This is available to anyone in the world, not just Israel.
vs. 17…The time for judgement had not come, accept a choice to accept the offer of eternal life
vs. 18…The name of the only begotten Son of God is the Word, The Lamb of God, the Son of Man. Those who do not repent of their way of life and accept Jesus as divine revelation, atoning sacrifice and the everlasting ruler of creation are judged already.
vs. 19…The “evil deeds” are the way of life exposed by the Light which is in complete opposition to the life God is offering. In other words, there is nothing good in a person.
vs. 20…People don’t want to admit they need to change. Again, “what was in a man” is pride, greed and hypocrisy (chapter 1 and 2).
vs. 21…”Practicing the truth” is sharing in the eternal life by the power of the Spirit in the present time. This starts by coming to Jesus and recognizing the need for a new life. God will accomplish His work in those who recognize this need. Those people desire to see God glorified in this. The question left with Nicodemus is, “now that you know the truth, what are you going to do with it?” Will you practice the truth by letting the Light search you and have His way?
There is nothing good in a person, but God in His love has made it possible to have eternal life now in which we witness His working in us. This experience is one we will not fully understand as we simply fix our eyes on Christ; therefore, we are dependent on Him.
Practice the truth that only Christ in you is good.
Prayer: “Lord search my heart because I don’t even know what is in there!”
Do I think more highly of myself than I ought?
Do I think I lack something?
Am I okay with not understanding the course of my life as I trust Jesus to do HIS work?
This is the blog of Tyler Shepard, the Associate Pastor for Centre Union Church in Yeagertown, PA.
I hope you are encouraged and challenged to walk more closely with Jesus Christ!