Daily Bible Studies & Sermon Notes


John 3:11-20
Pastor Steve Schell
Sunday: John 3:11-13
vs11-13: Jesus wants Nicodemus to understand that these mysteries He has revealed to him are not mere speculation. His teaching is authoritative; it is divine revelation. The words He speaks are in partnership with the Father (“we”), and He is literally reporting (“witnessing”) truth which He saw and heard in heaven before He became incarnated as a man. In effect He said, “Nicodemus, I’m not simply another rabbi trying to teach people how to obey the Law of Moses. I’m the Messiah, and what I am telling you is not a matter for debate. I didn’t discover these truths by human reasoning. I actually existed in heaven before I came to earth, so I am reporting things I learned directly from the Father Himself (Jn 3:31-34). And if you can’t understand what I’m saying when I use common earthly illustrations, you certainly won’t be able to understand if I tell you what I know in a straightforward way” (paraphrase).

Monday: John 3:14-15
vs14-15: Having just said that He is the divine Son of God who came to earth to reveal heavenly truth, Jesus then uses a strange event found in the Law of Moses (Nu 21:4-9) to tell Nicodemus that He ultimately came to die and to explain why. We need to remember that this Pharisee had undoubtedly memorized the Torah (five books of Moses), so the story about Moses lifting up a serpent would have been very familiar to him. He would have recognized it immediately. He knew that at one point during the Exodus God had sent “fiery serpents” among the people, and many had died from the poisonous venom. He also knew that when Moses prayed, God had instructed him to make a bronze replica of one of the serpents and lift it up on a pole so everyone could see it. And he would have remembered the promise that, “it shall come about that everyone who is bitten, when he looks at it, he shall live” (Nu 21:8).

Tuesday: John 3:14-15
vs14-15 (continued): God gave Moses no explanation of why He wanted him to do this. Even then the image of a snake was a very negative symbol. Satan himself had taken the form of a serpent in the Garden of Eden (Ge 3:1), and it must have been very confusing for Moses to hear God ask him to make a “graven image” of anything (Ex 20:4; Dt 4:16-18). Yet he obeyed, and when dying people looked in faith toward this remedy which God had provided for them, they escaped from death. By choosing this illustration Jesus was explaining to Nicodemus that this event was a prophetic symbol of the day when God’s Son would die on a cross, and it contained a promise that all who look in faith to that cross will be rescued from eternal death.

Wednesday: John 3:14-15
vs14-15 (continued): Even now we are left to wonder why God chose the image of a serpent, because as a biblical symbol it is the embodiment of evil. The answer may be found in the fact that while Jesus was dying on the cross He took upon Himself the moral responsibility for the collective guilt of the entire human race. That made Him, during those hours (Mt 27:45-46), the most horrible sinner who has ever lived. Paul described that moment this way: “He (the Father) made Him who knew no sin [to be] sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2Co 5:21). It is also possible that in the act of raising up an image of a dead snake, there was a reference backward to the announcement God had made in the Garden of Eden when He cursed the devil for his role in bringing death to the human race. There in the garden He declared that a day would come when the “seed of the woman” would crush the serpent’s head (Ge 3:15; Ro 16:20). In effect, when Moses lifted up a bronze image of a dead snake he prophetically declared it done.

Thursday: John 3:16-17
vs16-17: Then Jesus explained why He would have to die this way. He said it is because God loves people, all people, and wants to save them not condemn them. So He created a plan that would make it possible to save every human being, even the worst sinner, but the price for such a salvation would be enormous. God’s justice demanded a payment for sin equal to or greater than the huge moral offense that humans would commit against Him. But none of Adam’s race was capable of living a sinless life or bearing the weight of the sin of the world, so the Father gave the most precious and painful gift He could give: He sent His only-begotten Son.

Friday: John 3:16-17
vs16-17 (continued): Jesus said, the Father “sent Him into the world” which means He arranged for Jesus to become a human being with a human body which would contain the same weaknesses and passions that every other human being experiences, and then He allowed Him to be tempted. Yet Jesus did not yield to sin, so He became a sinless sacrifice. And because He is the eternal Son, He was able to be a substitute for all of us by bearing the incomprehensible weight of the sin of all humanity. This made it possible for all who “believe in Him” to escape God’s judgment. To this Pharisee (Nicodemus) who had been trying to earn salvation as a reward for his works, Jesus said salvation would be given to those who had faith in Him, which means to follow Him as His disciple (Lk 9:23). No human is good enough on their own. Without the grace His death (and resurrection) would provide, all humans would be judged.

Saturday: John 3:18-20
vs18-20: God sent Jesus to save people, not judge them, but the fact is that wherever Jesus went He did both. His presence and His message confronted people with a choice, and their responses revealed the attitudes hidden in their hearts. Some showed by their response that they were looking for a Savior, and some by their response showed they were not. Some drew near, but most turned away, not because they didn’t realize who He was but because they didn’t want Him to tell them to stop doing things they enjoyed doing. Jesus pictured these two very different responses using the symbols of “light” and “darkness.” Physical light illuminates what is hidden by darkness; spiritual light is God’s Holy Spirit revealing mysteries of God’s truth to the human mind. The term “darkness” describes the condition of the human mind when it is unable to comprehend God’s truth either because of deception, ignorance or willful rejection. However, we should note that in this conversation with Nicodemus, Jesus didn’t speak of light in general, He spoke of “the Light” using the term as a title for Himself. He is the Light because He perfectly reveals the heart and character of the Father. So this passage is primarily talking about how people respond to Him personally and to the gospel, not simply how people respond to all forms of God’s truth when they encounter it. 


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