John  ◦   Chapter 3

1There was a Pharisee, a member of the Jewish Sanhedrin–the highest ruling council of the Jews — whose name was Nicodemus.2Because he was afraid of what others might think if a member of the ruling council was seen talking with Jesus, he came to Jesus at night. He asked, "Teacher, we know you must have come from God, as no one could perform all these miracles you are performing if God were not with him."

3Jesus ignored the attempted flattery, and cut directly to the heart of the issue which Nicodemus needed to understand. He said, "I tell you plainly, no one can see God's kingdom unless they are born again."

4But Nicodemus was resistant to Christ's teaching and asked, "How can a person, once they are already born and fully grown, be born again? Surely someone cannot reenter their mother’s womb to be born again!"

5Jesus answered, "I tell you plainly, no one can be part of God's kingdom unless they are first born into the world and then renewed by the Spirit.6The first birth — the natural, water birth — is a birth of individuals infected with sin and selfishness, but the second birth — the birth of the Spirit — is a birth of a right heart and new mind: a new mind that is no longer controlled by sin and selfishness.7You should not be so astounded by my telling you that you must be born again.8The wind blows wherever it pleases: you hear its sound, you see its effects, but you cannot tell from where it comes or to where it is going. So it is with those born of the Spirit: you can see the transformation and renewal of their minds and characters, but you cannot explain how the Spirit accomplished it."

9"How is this possible?" Nicodemus asked.

10"Nicodemus, you're one of the teachers in Israel — one of the most educated men in the country — and you don't understand these things?" Jesus replied.11"I tell you plainly, we are discussing the clear facts and realities of what we know and have seen, but still, you theologians and teachers of the law will not accept what I am telling you.12I have told you about things happening here on earth — right in front of you — and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I tell you about heavenly things?13No human now living on earth has gone into heaven except the One who lived in heaven and came to earth from heaven–which is I, the One speaking to you — the Son of Man.14Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert in order to bring healing to those who would look at it and trust, so also I — the Son of Man — must be lifted up15so that everyone who looks to me and trusts in me may be healed and live eternally.

16"For God loved the world so much that he gave me, his One and only Son, so that all who open their hearts and trust me will be healed, and therefore not perish but have everlasting life.17For God did not send me, his Son, into the world to condemn the world, but to provide healing from sin in order to restore the world to unity with God through me.18Whoever genuinely trusts me experiences renewal of mind and re-creation of heart, and therefore is no longer out of harmony with God: such a one will not be lost. But whoever does not trust me and does not experience renewal of mind and heart is hopelessly lost because they have not trusted in God’s One and only Son — the only healing solution.19This is the reality: I have come into the world as the light to reveal the truth about God, his character, methods, and principles–the very principles upon which life is based — but all of mankind have loved the dark lies of Satan and his methods of selfishness, which lead only to death, because their habits and lifestyle–their very characters–are evil.20Everyone who does evil is practicing Satan’s methods of selfishness, and hates the light of truth and self-sacrificing love. They will not come into the light of love and truth for fear that the corrupt condition of their heart and mind will be exposed.21But whoever opens their heart in trust to me and lives by the truth comes into the light of God’s love, methods and principles, so that it is plainly seen that both their transformed character and their life of selfless love have been accomplished by God."

22After this, Jesus, along with his disciples, went out into the Judean countryside, where he spent time with them and immersed believers in water.23Now, John was also immersing the repentant ones in water at Aenon near Salim, as the water was plentiful there and people were constantly coming to be immersed — symbolically washed clean from sin.24(This was before John was put in prison.)25An argument developed between some of John's disciples and a certain Jew over the issue of ceremonial washing.26They came to John and said, "Teacher, that man Jesus, who was with you on the other side of the Jordan–the One you testified was the Messiah to come–well, he is also immersing people in water. Everyone is going to him for this symbolic cleansing, and soon no one will come to us."

27To this, John replied: "An honest person can only receive that which is given to them by God.28You know it very well, and you can verify that I have said it all along that I am not the Savior but am sent ahead of him.29The bride belongs to the bridegroom, and Jesus is the bridegroom, and his followers — the bride. The best man, who serves the bridegroom, waits and listens to his instructions, follows his directions, and is overwhelmed with joy when he hears the bridegroom's voice. That is my joy. I have heard the voice of the bridegroom, and my joy and mission are now complete.30He must become the One whom all seek after and love, and I must fade into the background.

31"Jesus — who comes from heaven, and who created everything — is above all that is created; I — a man who is from this earth — am simply a creature belonging to earth, and I speak as one who has only an earthly perspective.32Jesus reveals what he has seen and heard about God and God's heavenly kingdom, but no one believes or accepts what he reveals.33But I have accepted what he has revealed, and I certify that God is truthful and that Jesus is a revelation of that truth.34Jesus — the One God has sent — speaks only the words of God, for Jesus is God's thoughts made audible and visible, as God's Spirit is upon him without limit.35The Father loves Jesus, his Son, and has placed all things — whether in heaven or on earth — in his hands.36Whoever trusts in God's Son, Jesus, is recreated within and has eternal life, but whoever rejects God's Son will not see life because they reject the only Remedy for their otherwise terminal condition, and God; sadly, grants them their free choice."