SwindollStudyBible-John - Page 20

J ohn 3 : 1 7
The Simple Story
JOHN 3:1-16
T H IS D IA LOGU E between Jesus and a Pharisee named Nicodemus is very revealing.
This Pharisee was concerned about the message from this radical teacher, Jesus. The
Lord put away all the unnecessary preliminaries and went right to the heart of the issue.
He said to Nicodemus, “I tell you the truth, unless you are born again, you cannot see
the Kingdom of God.” Nicodemus exclaimed with concern and confusion, “What do you
mean?” (John 3:3-4). He wondered how in the world he could literally be born again.
Jesus responded that His statement was spiritual, not physical.
Furthermore, it was not something one could analyze to underJesus was saying
stand. Being born again is a mystery, the result of God’s inner work
that when He
in a life.
was lifted up,
To explain His meaning, Jesus drew upon Nicodemus’s knowledge of the Law and the history of Israel. No one would have
everyone who
been a student of Moses and the Law like a Pharisee. Nicodemus
believed in Him
knew the Law intimately, so he immediately connected with what
would have
Jesus said. Jesus referred to the story in Numbers 21:4-9, where
the Israelites in the wilderness had brought God to the end of His
eternal life.
tether with their constant complaining. The Lord decided it was
time to discipline them, so He sent poisonous snakes among them. The snakes bit, and
the venom killed, and the people finally got it. “We have sinned!” they cried out. So Moses
prayed, and God said, “Make a replica of a poisonous snake and attach it to a pole. All who
are bitten will live if they simply look at it!” Moses made a bronze snake, and He put it on
a pole. Anyone bitten by a snake could look at it, and they would be healed. It was a look of
faith to God’s provision.
Then Jesus explained the analogy for Nicodemus: “As Moses lifted up the bronze snake
on a pole in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, so that everyone who
believes in him will have eternal life” (John 3:14-15). Do you see the analogy? It’s the Cross,
of course! The bronze snake was a picture of the Cross, where Jesus was going to be lifted
up and where He would pay the complete penalty for the sin of the world for all time. Jesus
was saying that when He was lifted up, everyone who believed in Him would have eternal
life. This, too, was a look of faith to God’s provision.
I believe by now Nicodemus was standing, staring, and churning. I don’t think he was
born again yet. But by John 7:50-51, he will have started to come out of hiding, and he will
make a statement in defense of Jesus in front of his colleagues in the Sanhedrin. Then by
the time of the Crucifixion, Nicodemus will be standing alongside Joseph of Arimathea as
they wrap the body of Jesus and prepare it for burial (John 19:38-42). Somewhere between
here and there, Nicodemus will come to believe in Christ.
Are you still trying to figure out what it means to be born again? Don’t make it complicated. No need to add to the story. It only takes a look of faith. Why not look to Jesus and
find out if He is who He says? If you do, you won’t be sorry.

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