What can I learn about the person of Jesus from John 3:1-15? That’s the question I had to answer recently as I studied the Bible during a cross-country flight.
John 3:1-15 (English Standard Version) tells how Nicodemus brought his questions to Jesus at night. What does their dialogue reveal? Who is Jesus the man?
1 Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. 2 This man came to Jesus by night and said to him, “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.” 3 Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
Jesus is accessible to those who want to know more, day or night. He speaks with authority and clarity, and offers specific information about the kingdom of God.
4 Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?”
Jesus listens to his questions and the question behind the questions.
5 Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’”
Jesus explains what he means. Why does he say, “Do not marvel” or “do not be surprised”? Is it because being born again is logical and doable?
8 The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”
Jesus uses an analogy to make things clearer.
9 Nicodemus said to him, “How can these things be?”
Jesus entertains further questioning.
10 Jesus answered him, “Are you the teacher of Israel and yet you do not understand these things?
Jesus admonishes Nicodemus.
11 Truly, truly, I say to you, we speak of what we know, and bear witness to what we have seen, but you do not receive our testimony.
The “we” that Jesus uses—does it refer to himself and his disciples, or to the Trinity?
12 If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you heavenly things?
Jesus’ question is insightful.
13 No one has ascended into heaven except he who descended from heaven, the Son of Man. 14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, 15 that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.
Jesus refers to an incident in Moses’ time that Nicodemus would be familiar with where the people complained so bitterly that the LORD sent serpents that killed many. When the people repented the LORD made a way for them to survive.
In Numbers 21: 8 and 9, the LORD says to Moses, “Make a fiery serpent and set it on a pole, and everyone who is bitten, when he sees it, shall live.” So Moses made a bronze serpent and set it on a pole. And if a serpent bit anyone, he would look at the bronze serpent and live.”
Jesus draws a parallel between the bronze serpent that was lifted up so all could see it and be saved and between himself being “lifted up” that all may have eternal life. He knew ahead of time that he would be crucified.
From these verses, I learn that Jesus is accessible, attentive, patient, perceptive, respectful, authoritative, purposeful, practical, and concerned with eternal, life-and-death matters, plus he can see the future.
Isn’t Jesus amazing?