- Religion and Philosophy
John's Gospel - a new look number 4: Chapter 3.
John's Gospel: A New Look- number 4. Chapter 3.
1. As John continues to put together his evidence to prove once and for all that "Jesus is the Messiah, the Son Of God", he says that those who develop that belief to its natural conclusion can enjoy the blessing that it brings; "through your faith in him you may have life".( John 20:31) (Good News translation) John now introduces us to a ruler/leader of the Jews called Nicodemus, a member of the party of the Pharisees. This important man in the religious and political powers of the Sanhedrin, comes to Jesus during the dark hours of the night.
2. On a later occasion Nicodemus is going to appear again in John's account as someone who probably became a follower of Jesus. He firstly defends Jesus when he is brought before the Sanhedrin (John 7:50), and then assists in his burial (John 19:39)
3. It is interesting as we consider the more subtle meaning that often appearing in this Gospel that this religious leader comes to Jesus, who claims to be the light, under the cover of darkness. It is what Jesus tells him, however, that is much more riveting and important! Here John introduces us to the concept of a spiritual rebirth. Nicodemus, living under the old law is suitably confused, but Jesus corrects him and challenges his thinking as he does ours today. "How can a person be born again?" The important question is asked and the answer comes, "by the water and spirit". John the Baptist has already been baptising the Jews in the baptism for repentance but now Jesus and later his disciples, are going to baptise with a new baptism involving the Holy Spirit. It is interesting that after Jesus' resurrection he commands his disciples to go out and spread the good news and baptise the believers "in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit". (Matthew 28:18/19) On the first day of Pentecost after Jesus' ascension, Peter tells the people present to "repent and be baptised for the forgiveness of sin and to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit". (Acts 2:38) Paul, writing to the Roman church, explains in that letter that in the act of baptism we are given the opportunity "to live a new life". (Romans 6:4)
4. Slowly John is building his evidence of who Jesus is and also introducing some vital doctrinal issues that will only become clear, firstly to his disciples in the first century and then also to us today, as the full revelation of God's saving action is fulfilled at the cross and through the Good News. (Romans 1:16) "The gospel that is God's power to save all who believe..".
5.John has so far in his account called several witnesses to testify about who Jesus is. Beginning with the early disciples in Galilee, including a person "without guile", Nathanial, he moves on to the people at the wedding feast, and now to a religious leader who admits that "we know that you are a teacher sent by God. No one could perform these miracles you are doing unless God were with him". (John 3:2) As Jesus continues his discussion with Nicodemus, he makes what is probably the best known statement in the bible, recorded in John 3:16 "For God so loved the world that he sent his only begotten Son that whoever believes in him will not die but have eternal life".
6. At the same time John the Baptist, who John the Gospel writer simply refers to as John - unlike the other Gospel writers who always refer to him as John the Baptist - is busy at work with his mission of preparing the way for the Messiah. Here again is a testimony that is going to be extremely powerful. What John is saying in essence is that yes, I was sent by God, but the one following me is much greater than I. He, that is Jesus, has the power granted by his heavenly Father and speaks God's words. Anyone who rejects him will not have life but will remain under God's punishment (John 3:34-36).
7. If John stopped here the evidence would already have been compelling and the message clear . The writer of the fourth Gospel however has much more to say as he carefully unfolds the message that rests so clearly on his heart and mind, and that he needs to share with his world then and also with our world today.