Daily Bible Studies & Sermon Notes


John 3:21-24
Pastor Steve Schell
Sunday: John 3:21
v21: Jesus was explaining to Nicodemus why people do and don’t come to God, and He told him that the deciding factor is not ignorance or even sin. It’s fundamental honesty. There are those who hate the thought of having their evil practices exposed, but on the other hand there are those who are honestly trying to do what they believe is right. Jesus described the first group as “all the ones [who are] practicing bad (worthless, repulsive) things” (v20, literal), but the second group as “the one [who is] doing truth” (literal). Apparently those who “do truth” are those who are trying to let their conscience guide their choices, and who, when they have the opportunity to learn more about God, respond by pursuing that truth. And when that truth was perfectly embodied in Jesus, these were the people who moved toward Him wanting to know more.

Monday: John 3:21
v21 (continued): They weren’t afraid that He might see what was hidden in their hearts because they knew He would recognize why they did what they did. Even if they had done wrong things, they knew He would see that those were mistakes because their desire was to please God (1Ti 1:12-13). The choices made by a person who is trying to do what is right will naturally produce very different results from those done by a person who is rebellious and trying to escape from being held accountable by God (1Jn 1:5-6). When God examines the person who “does truth” it will also become evident that they had pursued some level of relationship with Him and had depended on Him to guide and help them do every good thing they had done.

Tuesday: John 3:21
v21 (continued): Jesus explained these things, in part, to reveal to Nicodemus why he had made the effort to come out to meet Him at night. He was showing him his own heart. He was a “doer of truth” who had come toward the light when he saw it. He didn’t hate Jesus or flee from the truth as had so many other religious leaders. Jesus was also explaining to him why others on the Sanhedrin had already begun to think of ways to kill Him. The problem wasn’t ignorance, and those men weren’t innocent. The problem was they preferred darkness to Light and were willing to kill God’s Son in order to protect their power and lifestyle (Mt 21:38-39).

Wednesday: John 3:22
v22: When Passover and the week of Unleavened Bread were complete (Jn 2:23), Jesus left Jerusalem, but He did not immediately return to Galilee. Instead He and His disciples spent a lengthy but unspecified period of time (months?) preaching through the towns and villages scattered throughout the region of Judea. Technically during that period of history Judea extended from the Jordan River on the east to nearly the Mediterranean Sea on the west and from the southern border of Samaria as far south as Beersheba near the wilderness of the Negev. John says only that Jesus went “into the land of Judea,” but he doesn’t tell us where in Judea, probably because Jesus traveled to many different locations in that region. While there He “spent time with them (the people of Judea) and was baptizing.” However we learn later that “Jesus Himself was not baptizing, but His disciples were” (Jn 4:2). We aren’t told what Jesus preached during this early mission to Judea, but judging from the message He presented to Nicodemus (Jn 3:3-21) and the statements John the Baptist made about Him during this same period of time (Jn 3:28-36), Jesus had already begun inviting people to believe in Him. And the baptism He presented may also have moved beyond the baptism of repentance to which John the Baptist invited people (Mt 3:2, Mk 1:4) and into the full surrender into which He Himself had been baptized (Jn 3:5).

Thursday: John 3:22-23
v22 (continued): During this early season of Jesus’ ministry it appears that there were still only five or six disciples traveling with Him. John makes no mention that any others had been added to the original group of men introduced in chapter one (Jn 1:35-51). The six or seven more disciples who would bring the total number to twelve apparently were not added until Jesus returned to Galilee (Jn 4:3; Mk 3:13-19). v23: At this verse the apostle John returns to the subject of John the Baptist. He wants his readers to know that the great prophet continued to proclaim that Jesus was the Messiah. His certainty about the identity of Jesus did not decline following their encounter at the Jordan River (Jn 1:28-36). However, later on after a lengthy period of time in Herod’s dungeon, he may have begun to question this (Mt 11:2-6). But early on John did not stop preaching or baptizing even though He believed the Messiah had arrived. He continued preparing people to meet Him.

Friday: John 3:23-24
v23 (continued): The precise location of Aenon is uncertain, though it is thought to be near the Jordan River about 35 miles north of the site where he was baptizing in chapter one (Jn 1:28). We’re told that Aenon (“the springs”) was near a town called Salim (“peace”), and it may have been either near the city of Bethshean or a few miles southeast of the Sea of Galilee. However what is important to know is that in either place John was near the city of Tiberias, Herod Antipas’ capital. v24: We read, “For John had not yet been thrown into prison.” Suddenly we are introduced to the fact that John the Baptist is in danger, and we learn elsewhere that Herod Antipas would soon imprison him for declaring the king’s marriage to be unlawful (Mk 6:17-18; Lk 3:19-20).

Saturday: John 3:24
v24 (continued): This simple statement about John’s imprisonment also tells us more. First, it indicates that John’s gospel was likely written after one or more of the other gospels (Matthew, Mark or Luke). He seems to believe that we (the readers) already know that John the Baptist will be arrested, and as a result he never bothers to mention when John was arrested or what happened to him after that. Second, this statement helps us place these events that John describes in chapters one through three into the chronology of Jesus’ life. It tells us that the events John described in these three chapters took place before Matthew 4:12 and Mark 1:14 and therefore Luke 4:14. John may have chosen to give us this early history which describes the first year of Jesus’ ministry because he knew the other gospels didn’t. Understanding where these three chapters of John’s gospel fit in the timeline of Jesus’ ministry also changes how we view the sequence of events in the other gospels. It shows us that the other gospels left out much of this early history and start their description of Jesus’ ministry after He left Judea and returned to Galilee (Jn 4:3). 


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