Daily Bible Studies & Sermon Notes

John 3:3-10
Pastor Steve Schell
Sunday: John 3:3-4
vs3-4: To protect himself from being seen by anyone who might report him to the Sanhedrin, Nicodemus came at night to meet with Jesus. Jesus didn’t waste any time in telling this powerful religious leader that God needed to miraculously transform his heart before he could even begin to understand the new way of life that Jesus had come to make possible. He explained this using familiar images drawn from everyday life, but Nicodemus still didn’t understand. He told him, “Unless someone is born from above he cannot behold the kingdom of God” (literal). When Nicodemus heard the word “born” he asked how an old man could be born since “he cannot enter into the womb of his mother and be born a second time” (literal). His confused response is why translators often translate a word that means “from above” (anothen) as “again.”

Monday: John 3:4-5
vs4-5: But Nicodemus’ confusion should not be allowed to change Jesus’ meaning. He spoke of being “born from above” not “born again” and then explained that in order for that to happen a person must be “born of water” and “born of the Spirit.” I believe Jesus chose these terms to describe what happened to Him personally when He was baptized by John in the Jordan River. That event was a unique moment in spiritual history, and it deepened the meaning of baptism for all who would follow Jesus in the future. Unlike every other human being, He had no sins to confess, nor did He need to ask the Father for mercy. His baptism was not about repentance or washing away sin. Yet He definitely felt the need to be baptized (Mt 3:14-15). For Him, being immersed under water must have been a symbolic burial (Jn 1:29, 36; Ro 6:1-5), an act by which He surrendered to the path the Father had placed before Him—a path which led to the cross.

Tuesday: John 3:4-5
vs4-5 (continued): By surrendering to God’s will, a cross awaited Jesus, and He knew it. So for Him baptism took on a much deeper meaning. It became a complete surrender. And from that moment on His example has changed for us the meaning of our baptism as well. For all humans, except Jesus, baptism still involves repentance and a plea that God would wash away our sin, but now it also calls each of us to do what He did, which means surrender our lives to the plan God has for us, knowing that in one form or another that plan will lead to a life of self-denial and service. In other words, in baptism we follow Jesus by embracing our own cross. But there is also another spiritual reality which was received by Jesus when He was baptized. When He came up out of the water, the heavens above Him opened and the Holy Spirit descended and rested upon Him like a dove. At that moment Jesus was baptized in the Holy Spirit. So there in the river two actions took place: First, Jesus’ full surrender was symbolized by His burial in water, and second, God’s indwelling presence came down upon Him from heaven (“from above”).

Wednesday: John 3:4-5
vs4-5 (continued): At that moment God prepared the human Jesus (for Jesus truly became human even though His spirit was the divine Son of God) for the ministry that lay ahead of Him. And when He told Nicodemus that he must be “born of water and the Spirit” He was telling him that the same thing must happen to him. He too must fully surrender and embrace a cross, and he too must be baptized in the Holy Spirit in order to “see” (spiritually understand) and “enter into” (participate in) the new work that God was now doing in the earth. For Nicodemus to be changed there would have to be a human decision and a divine response; the water and the Spirit; a deep surrender and a powerful indwelling.

Thursday: John 3:6
v6: And then Jesus told this Pharisee why such surrender and empowerment were necessary. In effect He said human effort can only produce human results. Those things which please God must be produced by His Spirit. He said, “That which is born from the flesh is flesh, and that which is born from the Spirit is spirit” (literal). As a Pharisee, Nicodemus was earnestly trying to please God by keeping even the smallest details in the Law of Moses, but by this statement Jesus was telling him that all such efforts are futile. Those deeds that we initiate and do in our own strength inevitably fall short of God’s goal. That doesn’t mean that everything we do in the flesh is evil, it simply means it is misguided and powerless. The deeds that please God must be initiated by Him and empowered by His Spirit (Jn 5:19-20, 30; 8:28-29; 12:49-50; 14:10). Our human desire to obey His commands is a right attitude, but to actually be successful requires that we have an active relationship with Him.

Friday: John 3:7-8
vs7-8: Having stated the principle that only the Holy Spirit can produce in and through us that which pleases God, Jesus, in effect, told Nicodemus, “So, don’t be surprised when I tell you that you must experience this miraculous transformation, because it’s only after that happens that God will be able to guide you and produce His works through you instead of you trying to guide yourself by the rules of the Law. God wants people who are moved by His Spirit just as the leaves of a tree are moved by the wind. You can’t see either the wind or the Spirit, but you can see their effect. Like the wind blowing the leaves of a tree in whatever direction it wishes, so also the Holy Spirit moves upon those who are ‘born from above’ and directs them as He wishes.” Jesus used this illustration to invite Nicodemus to a relationship with God in which He would guide and empower him. He would no longer be in control of his own life but would be led by the Spirit (Ro 8:14).

Saturday: John 3:9-10
vs9-10: Nicodemus did not understand, so he asked, “How can such things be born?” (literal). Jesus was surprised that such a highly respected teacher of the Bible did not recognize that this miracle was foretold by the prophets. Actually, there are many places in Scripture where this inner transformation is described, but there were two prophets who saw it with special clarity: Ezekiel (Eze 36:25-27) and Jeremiah (Jer 31:31-34). They said when the Messiah arrived a great miracle would take place: the very nature of the human heart would be transformed, and the Holy Spirit would indwell each believer. Those transformed in this way would genuinely desire to obey God and would be empowered by Him to do so. Everyone, from the least to the greatest, would have an active relationship with God.  

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