Lesson 3���

Step 3




John 3:1-21

Key Verse: 3:16


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. 


Intro: Today’s passage is about being born again to eternal life through believing in Jesus. This is the way God loved the world.

What does verse 1 tell us about Nicodemus? What did he believe about Jesus? (2)

** Two things: 1) a Pharisee; 2) a member of the Jewish ruling counsel. 


Pharisee: a) good family background

b) started studying from boyhood (5-6 years old)

c) memorized the Torah (5 books of Moses, the first 5 of the Bible)

d) learned everything about law (614 laws)

2) Ruling counsel: 70 people, consisted of Pharisees and Sadduccees. 

** Jesus was a teacher who came from God, based on the evidence of the miracles Jesus had performed.

Read verses 3-4. What was Jesus’ reply? What does this tell us about the kingdom of God? How did Nicodemus respond? What does this show about him?

** In reply Jesus declared, “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.” (verse 3)

** Jesus’ reply tells us the truth about the kingdom of God that Nicodemus needed to hear. Despite Nicodemus’s training and background, those alone didn’t make him see God’s kingdom. He had to be born again.

** It tells us that the kingdom of God can only be seen by those who are born again. It’s a physical place or awarded based on law. 

** “How can a man be born when he is old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely he cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb to be born!”

** Nicodemus was challenged by Jesus’ teaching. His understanding was just physical, assuming you had to re-live and redo things. 

Read verses 5-8. How can a person be born again?

** Being born again is needed not noly to see the kingdom of God, but to enter it. Being born again means to: 1) be born of water and the Spirit (5); 2) Having birth by the Spirit (6). Born of water refers to John’s baptism. John’s baptism means repentance. And the Spirit comes from Jesus. We are born again by them. 

** For Nicodemus, being born again would not happen through his flesh and what he was doing, even should he live another 60 years as an obedient Pharisee. He needed birth from the Spirit. 

Read verse 9-11. How did Nicodemus respond the second time? Why might this have been challenging for him? 

** He asked “How” again, meaning, how then does the Spirit give birth.

** Challening in the sense that: he couldn’t depend on his flesh and life experience to be born again and see the kingdom of God. He had to rely on God’s Spirit. He had to humble himself and repent and listen to John the Baptist and Jesus.

Why was Jesus uniquely qualified to tell about God's work in this world and about heavenly things also? (11-13) What do verses 14-15 teach about God? What does God promise to those who believe?

** verse 11: Jesus knows first hand (know and seen), verse 13: He came from heaven and can speak of heavenly things. It might have been hard for Nicodemus to listen to a young teacher when the teaching was challenging. But Jesus is qualified to talk about these heavenly things.

** It may have been hard for Nicodemus to accept that the Spirit gives life to everyone who repents and believes. It means that he is the same boat as everyone else, even though they weren’t disciplined and trained and obedient like him. He was proud.

Nicodemus asked “how can it be?” He couldn’t believe God would treat people like that. But in verses 14-15, Jesus used a story Nicodemus knew very well (from Numbers 21:4-9) to teach that God accepts people’s repentance and faith and graciously gives life. Order: sin, repentance, faith in God’s way to be saved => life. 

Jesus would be lifted up for people to believe in and have life. 

Read verse 16. How did God love the world? How can we get eternal life and not die? 

** verse 16a: he gave his one and only Son, 

** verse 16b: that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

Read verses 17-21. What was Jesus teaching Nicodemus about God? (17) Who are those who are condemned? (18) What is the verdict? (19) What does it mean to come into the light? Who does and who does not? Why? 

** For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.

Jesus is teaching him that God loves the world and wants to save and give life. Because God’s love the world and sent Jesus, we can be born again and enter the kingdom. 

** Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. (verse 18)

** This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. => Jesus has come, it’s time to repent and believe.

** Live by the truth: accept the message, repent and believe in Jesus. 

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