Without fail this may quite possibly be the most notorious chapter in all of scripture…for one single reason, verse 16. While there is a powerful statement made in that passage I think the whole of John 3 is captured in verse 36. “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life…” In my own words I think chapter 3 can be embraced as the declaration of new life, second chances, and eternal experience and audience with the King.
There is something really fun about the first few verses here. Starts off with Jesus talking to a religious powerhouse. Nicodemus, a Pharisee. While in modern Christianity the Sadducees and Pharisees have been vilanized there is something to stop and ponder…clearly some were corrupt like some pastors are today. And like Christianity today no doubt some of them were lost in the sea of religiosity that seems to always give way to legalism and condemnation. But at the heart of it can you blame them? I truly believe that they longed to please God and became hyper vigilant in their efforts and lost their way. While clearly Jesus takes them on with frequency and challenges their way of thinking, they longed to please God, a God in some ways they will always understand in a different light than any non-Hebrew person ever will. Think about their history with God. Rough at times yes, but always returning to a pursuit of Him, always aiming to please…Just a thought.
Verse 5 and 6 blow me away…first there’s a requirement here from Jesus to be born of the Spirit. Something in me says He literally meant that our identity should be found in the Spirit. While the issue of the ‘Spirit’ is always a controversial topic it wasn’t for Jesus. Stop for a second and think about that…Jesus didn’t see an ounce of controversy with the Spirit but as we talked about in Matt 4 on Wednesday He walked under the influence of the Spirit. No question the ‘Spirit’ has been used and abused, and while there may be an inherent fear of Him remember that there was a whole hearted abandon on Jesus part to the Spirit. An abandon that was understood through experience on Jesus part, no through hearsay. Jesus knew the Spirit, and was born of the Spirit. Time to change your thinking on the Spirit? Even if you are open to Him and let Him move through you? Some of us may need to be more open to what the Spirit may want to do through us, and some of us may need to take a long look at how Jesus functioned with the Spirit. It wasn’t from thoughtless abandon to emotion. Likewise it wasn’t buffered and inhibited through cerebral angst and calculation. “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.”
I want to encourage you to stop when you get to verse 16 and take a step back to verse 15. Quite possibly the most over looked verse in chapter 3…why? Because it’s the one before the ultimate verse. But in a sense it captures a powerful statement before 16 repeats the same truth. “Everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.” When you do get to 16, take a minute and actually read it, don’t recite it like a Sunday school memory verse, read it word by word and then, read it again…and while you do beg the Spirit for revelation.
At PURE we talk about transparency, often. I think that verses 19-21 capture whole-heartedly the idea of transparency. Verse 20 “For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed.” There is an inherent fear in all of us that what we do will be known…truth be told most of us could relate with anything you’ve done. Nothing hidden can be healed (James 5:16). I can’t help but think of king David when I read this and think of him declaring ‘Search me God and find any wicked way in me.’
Some of John the Baptist most prolific words are captured in verses 30-34. “He must increase, but I must decrease.” And then verse 34 “For He [Jesus] whom God has sent speaks the words of God; for He gives the Spirit without measure.” The Spirit is here, not for us to use, but for us to be used by, but rather for us to live with abandon to. You, me…following Jesus lead.
The true gut check here…is it possible to be a Passionate Christian without being under the Spirits influence? I think that most of us would agree that for passion to not be a simple emotion, for it to be sustained for a lifetime the Spirit is a must. Trading ‘Third Person Passion for First Person Experience’ demands surrender on our part to the Spirit, the Spirit that we were promised would be given without limits.