Day 3 – Nick
Summary of Chapter 3
Verses 1-21: I’m guessing that Jesus’ clearing of the temple courts in chapter 2 would have been during the heat of the day and the penetrating Jerusalem sunlight. By contrast, chapter three opens at night-time when darkness and cold temperatures would have been the silent backdrop. Think! Nicodemus would have been able to actually see Jesus’ breath in the cold air as He taught about the limitless life of the Breath of the Spirit and the ‘blowing’ of the Wind of the Kingdom.
Nicodemus comes to Jesus basically to hang out with Him and talk, something he wouldn’t have wanted to be seen doing during the day. This ‘covert op’ reflects everything about Nicodemus’ heart at this point: intrigued and drawn to Christ but frightened. He was a member of the Jewish ruling council, (also known as the the Sanhedrin), that acted as the governing body over every aspect of Jewish daily life, despite the absolute political Roman power in Israel. Nicodemus was like a learned, well-connected member of the Mafia…he was an absolute Don.
As such, Nicodemus was a Jewish Teacher (see Jesus’ incredulity in 3:10) but he was attracted to the supernatural power of God as manifest in and through Christ. He will have only seen demonic forms of power before, masquerading as the real deal. This night-time excursion to speak with Jesus is Nicodemus ‘beholding the Lamb’ for himself. This is precious.
The conversation between Nicodemus and Jesus then begins to point to a major theme of John’s gospel: spiritual blindness. We’ll see this time and time again as the Pharisees, and even the disciples, struggle to understand what Jesus is saying. Spiritual understanding is a gift of grace.
Jesus uses the phrase ‘born again’ for the first time in verse 3, setting the scene for the rest of this passage as the mysteries and truths of the kingdom begin to shine!
The Holy Spirit, the Breath, the Wind of God is another major feature in this chapter. The presence of the Spirit of God, as Wind, explodes onto the scene in verses 5-8; 34.
Verses 22-36: In the second section of the chapter it’s all about John the Baptist’s second recorded testimony of Jesus as the Messiah which majors on the most important metaphor/spiritual reality in the whole of the Bible: the marriage of a bride and a Bridegroom.
As Mairi pointed to yesterday, the marriage at Cana is pointing us to an infinitely more important wedding at the end of the age. But it’s not just about the end of the age, it’s also about here and now. The fact that, in Matthew 11, John the Baptist was honoured by Jesus in a major way tells us that his words are critical, (why do all the great men have the same initials…Bond, Bourne, Bauer, Baptist).
Truly I tell you, among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist
John the Baptist had waited for 20 years in the wilderness to herald Jesus Christ as the Messiah. I think it is fair to deduce, therefore, that the words he chose to describe and identify Jesus were not random or only poetic. JB is announcing the arrival of a literal Bridegroom for a literal Bride. [For more information on this for study, please click here for a mesmerisingly good book].
John is being pressurised by his own disciples about Jesus’ popularity and the fact that He was now baptising as well as John. For John it was simple: “He must increase; I (we) must decrease” (verse 30).
Key Thoughts from Chapter 3
- I’m reminded with force today in reading this chapter that God The Holy Spirit is everything! The marvel of new birth as Jesus described to the searching Nicodemus, as the gateway to the Kingdom, relies purely on Him! The alternative to life in the Spirit is darkness and spiritual blindness. Our searching for more of God, of His ways, or of revival and the demonstration of His Kingdom, comes from a place of blinding light, not crushing darkness. We have been born again!
- I hate the caricatures of weak, hypocritical Christian men and women in TV/Film who are the ‘born again ones’ who are outdated, who fail to show the true ‘born again life’, prone to moral hypocrisy, irrelevant, legalistic and barren of power. (I’m thinking of Lynn from Alan Partidge, The Vicar of Dibley, Danny from Doc Martin etc etc). Born again men and women are the most powerful men and women on the planet…filled with the Breath of God!
- Verse 34 is stand out to me today: “…God gives the Spirit without limit.”
Prayers from Chapter 3
Jesus, you amaze us every day! Thank you for bringing us from darkness and blindness into the limitless light and life of Holy Spirit! Breathe on and in us again, Lord…as we read….as we look at the Lamb…that we would experience the fullness of what you mean us to. Help us to recognise the distractions in our lives that function as limitations from what You want to do and say. Minister the reality of Your nature as Bridegroom in these days, that the Bride would make herself ready!