Valuable Lessons for Followers of Christ

John 4:27-42
In these 15 verses, I found seven valuable lessons:

1. Question only to seek understanding
2. Thank of spiritual rather than physical
3. The time to help someone find peace and joy and love is now
4. No one man alone saves a soul
5. Tell others about the miracles you experience.
6. Allow yourself to believe in others’ miracles
7. It takes a personal relationship with Jesus Christ to ground our faith.

So let’s start with verse 27. Being Jewish men, the disciples are confused as to why their rabbi is speaking to an unknown Samaritan woman. But the Bible says, “…no one said ‘What do you seek’ or, ‘Why do you speak with her?”

We can always ask Jesus questions if our intent is to seek understanding. However, when our questions would seek to only serve ourselves or try to put Jesus in a box of our preconceived ideals of him, we are just wasting breath.

I think the disciples knew that Jesus would NOT like their questioning of his actions.

Please see “I am the Savior that You Seek” for detail regarding verses 28-30.

In verse 31, we continue to see Jesus’ followers focus on the physical rather than the spiritual. I do not think that the message is to continually ignore the physical aspects of life. I think that Jesus begs us to focus on spiritual aspects so that we realize our need for His righteousness.

Jesus, in verse 32, lets them know that there is something more important in their immediate future than the physical side of it.

The disciples, of course, focus on the physical side and are concerned that someone met their master’s needs before they could.

31 “Eat, Rabbi.”
32 “I have food you do not know about.”
33 “Who brought him food?”
34 “My food is to do the will of Him - to accomplish His work.”

Jesus explains that his nourishment and energy come from doing the work that He was sent to Earth to do. Just like I sometimes get too busy volunteering at my son’s school to eat, Jesus is so busy ministering he does not even realize he has physical hunger. Just like the Samaritan woman in verse 28 forgot her thirst to run off and share the joy of her heart with anyone who would listen.

In verses 35-38, Jesus presents his point in a farming metaphor that he hopes the disciples will understand. He reminds them that when they plant wheat seed, it takes four months to be ready to harvest. He implores them to look around and view the souls of the people as wheat ready for harvest.

He explains that the seeds of faith were planted long ago (implying the OT prophets and John the Baptist were the sowers). Therefore, the time to help someone find peace and joy and love is now. He entices the disciples to reap souls by telling them they would “receive wages and gather fruit for eternal life.”

For a better understanding of “fruit” please see John 15:5

I think that verses 36-38 are important verses for all believers to note: “…so that he who sows and he who reaps may rejoice together.” No one man alone saves a soul. Celebrate with your brothers and sisters in Christ that together you helped a man/woman/child find peace in Jesus Christ.

Jews never spoke to Samaritans - much less Samaritan woman. Jesus, loving all souls, chose to ask this woman for a cool drink of water. She obliged, and in turn, “From that city, many of the Samaritans believed in Him.” What a beautiful tale of the “power of one.”

“Because of the word of the woman who testified.” It is so important that we tell others about the miracles we experience. Without that shared testimony, people continue to just meander through life forgetting sometimes that God even exists…

I know Christians can be annoying. I know others’ good fortune can be frustrating. But if we just occasionally allow ourselves to get wrapped up in the excitement of other peoples’ miracles, we too can find peace and joy and love that is everlasting.

There is only one way to Heaven - to believe in the love of Jesus Christ. Our relatives cannot pray us into Heaven. Our good deeds cannot earn us a spot on a cloud. We cannot be saved through our bloodline or through our religion (See Jesus’ conversation with Nicodemus in John 3.)

“We have heard for ourselves and know that this One is indeed the Savior of the world.”

It takes a personal relationship with Jesus Christ to ground our faith. We must believe that only through the redeeming work of Christ on the cross can we be righteous enough to be graced with the presence of God for eternity.


The Whirlwind that is My Life

I haven't quite made it through the book of John yet...

My mom came to visit in June. The Navy sent my husband away for the summer. My son went to Missouri. Mom and I went on a five-day road trip around Cali. At the last minute, I ditched my plans to go to Minnesota to have an amazing adventure in Hawaii. When I returned (pregnant), I had to take what felt like Road Trip #932. I had to drive to Missouri to pick up my son and then on to Minnesota to pick up my mom, and then drive from Minnesota to San Diego...

Brytin's school year started August 12 and I've been at Loma almost every day ever since. With the California budget cuts, they need all the help they can get.

With the pregnancy came a LOT of whirlwind emotional changes. I stopped smoking after almost 20 years. I stopped drinking soda. I changed my diet from whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted to little meals filled with nutrients all day long.

The biggest adjustment came when I stopped taking my depression medicine. For about a year, I have been taking a low dose of Effexor, and saw amazing results. No more panic, no more doubt, no more fear, anxiety, crying, roller coasters of emotion with my husband, friends and family. It was an awesome year. But alas, Effexor is not good for a growing baby, so I stopped. I have the option of taking Zoloft, but the risks far outweigh benefits, we think.

One of the "side-effects" of pregnancy is what they call "nesting." In other words, you clean like you've never cleaned before. The other night, I stumbled upon something I wrote prior to starting my depression medicine in the summer of 2009...

I think I need to go to a counselor. I do, really, need help. I'm not who I want to be, how I want to be. I think that the tortured soul is exactly who I am, but i cannot spend the rest of my life like this. I have to get my mind squared away before I do end up killing myself.

I do not know if it is the hormones from birth control or nicotine withdrawals or because my father was absent or because my stpedad was emotionally abusive or because my mother was not a strong-willed independent woman or because we weren't wealthy or if all my bad choices just added to my already present mental problems...I don't know. I just know I need to heal. i just know that I am sick of outsiders telling me I am weak.

For a long time, I believed that God and Jesus and the Holy Spirit could fix me. But they never did...I begged and pleaded and tried to be the best person I thought I could be and just let their love shine through me and over time, I've just become more and more and more confused, scared, manipulated, used, tired and lost...

And that brings me to today. I have always believed in God. My belief is so real, it isn't really a belief, but a KNOWING. Jesus Christ is as real to me as my right hand. I have always, even before ever setting foot in a church, even before ever opening a Bible, I have always known that Jesus Chris is the way, the truth and the life. Every single thing He has ever told me, I have believed and tried to live by and tried to share with others. I'm not an amazing Christian by any means, but my faith is unwavering.

John 3:30 "He must increase, but I must decrease." The Lord promises that when we lose ourselves in Him, we will truly finally find ourselves. But that is NOT the case in my life. I have been hurt THE WORST when I was closest to Jesus Christ. But yet, I still KNOW He is the way, the truth and the life. I am not intersted in trying again (and by "trying again" I mean delving deep into a Christ-centered life where I do nothing but eat, sleep and breath my best friend Jesus). But yet, I have no intention of denouncing Christianity.

So, where does that leave me? A lukewarm Christian? Yuck. But what else is there?

Here's my idea...I vow to finish this book of John for YOU. In turn, I share my knowledge, I share some of my feelings, ideas, and struggles. And maybe God will bless me in the process with the discernment to understand what in the world I am supposed to be doing.

Look for "John 4:27-42 Valuable lessons for Followers of Christ" soon.


"I am the Savior that you seek."

The Samaritan Woman at Jacob's Well
John 4:1-30

There is a striking difference between conversation of Nicodemus and Jesus in John 3 to that of Jesus with the Samaritan woman in John 4.

With Nicodemus, an openly religious man, a community leader, Jesus gives him the blunt truth. “The good moral path you are on will not get you into Heaven.” Nicodemus does not openly confess Christ as His Savior, but slinks away in the night to ponder Jesus’ words in awed silence.

In John 4, we are introduced to the Samaritan woman at the well. She is half-pagan, she is a blatant sinner. Never rebuking her for her sins, Jesus clearly, lovingly states, “I am the Messiah.” Quickly, the woman responds to Jesus’ unconditional love by telling all her neighbors and bringing them to see and feel the same love.

What is your response to Jesus’ love? Do you keep it to yourself? Do you run to your family and friends to share your joy?

The Pharisees were pitting John the Baptist against Jesus saying “Well this man has baptized this many, whereas this one only these.” We see in verses 1-3 that Jesus was not interested in the Pharisees’ fabricated pissing contest and instead chose to leave.

In Jesus’ day, Israel was divided into three main territories - the North was Galilee, the South was Judea and the middle was Samaria. When traveling either north or south, a Jew would take a route twice as long to avoid setting foot in Samaria. Why? Because Samaritans were a mixed race - Israelite and Palestinian. They were known for their strange religion that mixed heathen gods and a belief in Jehovah and the Law of Moses (see 2 Kings 17:41).

Jesus, thankfully, did not share the Jews’ spirit of exclusivity. He knew the needs of the Samaritans and chose to travel through their land.

As a child living with a very racist man, I often wondered why God even bothered to create races knowing that they would cause so much strife and pain throughout history. As I grew older, I learned that there are biological reasons for different skin colors based on an individual’s environment. When I studied the book of Genesis, and learned about the tower of Babel, I understood that God separated men with different languages, because when we are a united body, we will work together for evil. God never intended for the Jews to hate Samaritans. God never intended for Hitler to hate the Jews. God never intended for my dad to hate black people. Men choose to hate because we are inherently evil. Men choose to love when we are blessed by the amazing grace of God.

In verse 6, we see that it is around noon - a very warm time of day in Israel, especially for a man who had been walking all morning. Jesus stops at Jacob’s Well to get a cool drink, and along comes the Samaritan woman. Little did she know how much her life was about to change!

It was uncommon for a woman to draw water during the noon hour because of the heat. Possibly, this woman was there because she had miscalculated the amount of water she had needed that day. Or, the women in her village ostracized her for the choices she had made in life, and so she chose to avoid them.

By merely asking this woman for a drink, Jesus shook the very foundation of Jewish culture. First, Jews never spoke to Samaritans. Second, men never spoke to woman in public, much less women they didn’t know. Third, a Jew would be considered defiled if he drank from a cup of an unclean individual like this woman (verse 11 alludes to this when the woman points out that he has nothing to draw water with).

Verse 10, I think is important when you compare John 4:7-11 with Matthew 3:13-15. When Jesus asks John the Baptist to baptize him, John’s response is of total humility and awe “It is I who needs to be baptized by you.” This is the response Jesus was looking for from the Samaritan woman. He offers her a drink and her response should have been, “It is I who need a drink from you.” Unfortunately, not many were tuned into the coming Messiah like John the Baptist was. Thankfully, Jesus was concerned enough for the woman’s eternal future that he spent some time explaining it all to her.

Living Water

Verse 10 is paraphrased in The Message as:

“If you knew the generosity of God, and who I am, you would be asking me for a drink and I would give you fresh, living water.”

Fresh living water, as opposed to stale, stagnant water, refers to the new life given to those ask, through the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the representative of Jesus Christ that resides on Earth after Jesus ascends into Heaven (see John 14:16-17 and Acts 2). He enters into the being of the believer who receives Him or asks for the “living water” of eternal life. Spiritually, “living water” symbolizes the inner spring of joy of satisfaction that continually renews itself in the heart of the true believer.

Notice, please, that Christ offered her this gift of eternal life prior to any talk of her sins. After we believe, because we believe, our way of living naturally and (somewhat) easily changes. God loves us for who we are, not who we will become.

In verse 12, the woman shows her strong side. She was cynical and doubtful, but she was strong. “Who do you think you are to say you are better than our forefather Jacob?”

Jesus wants her to understand that whenever we drink of the wells of Earth, we will always want MORE. Our thirst is unquenchable, our desires are unrealized, until we drink of the living water that only Christ can provide.

It has been suggested that hell is full of torment, because people take their unclassifiable desires with them.

She thought her needs were physical, but really she needed her spirit healed. Jesus never promises that the widow will find a husband or that the poor will become rich. He says their souls will be saved. Eternal life with the Creator is the ultimate satisfaction.

Are you asking what physical needs Jesus can meet? Or do you want everlasting, truly satisfying spiritual healing? There is a greater purpose with Jesus, and it has nothing to do with clothes or cars or designer dogs.

In verse 15, we see that she is still focused on the physical need for water rather than the spiritual need for healing. Recognizing this, and still wanting to help her, Jesus turns to her needs as a sinner.

Conviction and Confession

When the woman responds with true desire for this ‘living water,’ Jesus opens her eyes to her deepest need. He opens the wound where His cure needs to begin. It is entirely possible that at Jacob’s Well, in the middle of a hot summer day, was the first time this woman considered her life in the same light as Jesus.

He did not, however, condemn, chastise, or rebuke her for her sins. He does use strong words that lead HER to see herself from God’s perspective. His words prove His love for her - He knew all about her and choose to offer her His living water. He wanted to help her.

Sometimes, hearing the truth can hurt. But truly we can rejoice - the dead feel nothing. Dirt and dust are revealed only after the coming of light. Jesus WANTS to cleanse us from all our sins so that we can fellowship with God (1 John 1:5-10).

When Jesus and the Samaritan woman met at the well, she gave him the polite title of “Sir.” In verse 19, after He reveals her secrets, she calls Him “Prophet.” Eventually, she would call Him her Savior.

I love verse 20 of John 4. In this verse, the woman reminds me of myself. She felt a sort of kinship with Jesus, she trusted him and she saw him as wise, so she laid it all out there, she told him the one problem she has with the Jewish religion. “Our Fathers worship in this mountain, but you Jews say that in Jerusalem is the only place where men ought to worship.” She lets him know that the Jews hatred for the Samaritans doesn’t make sense to her and trusts that He will give her a logical, fair answer.

When I have a question regarding Biblical truth, I know that I can respectfully ask God to explain it and He will find a way to help me understand - whether it’s from a book, from a trusted believer or from simple enlightening from the Holy Spirit, He will help me understand.

Jesus, acknowledging that the Jews had it wrong, explains to her that soon God will make sure this changes.

Previously, God had commanded that all worship take place in a specific place and in a specific manner (see Exodus and Leviticus for details). In verse 21, Jesus is essentially saying that once he is crucified, resurrected and then ascends to Heaven and the Holy Spirit descends from Heaven (all are inclusive in ‘the hour’), then there will be no set place for worship and most importantly no need for a sacrifice. I Corinthians 3:16 says that every believer that has the Holy Spirit in their heart is now the Temple of the Lord. Jesus was the scapegoat for our sins so we no longer have to follow the laws of Leviticus that require so much time and effort. (Thank you, Jesus!)

True worship is not ritualistic. “To worship in spirit and truth” (verse 4:23) is paraphrased in The Message as:

“Your worship must engage your spirit in the pursuit of truth.”

Worshipping God for all His glory is not singing three songs on Sunday morning. The singing of songs before a church service prepares our hearts and minds for the message God wants us to hear. Yes, we are praising God during those songs, but true worship is any act that expresses my reverence, admiration and devotion to the One True God. I worship God in spirit (with sincerity of heart) when I post Biblical truths on the Internet. I worship God in spirit and truth when I lovingly help my friends who call on me. I worship God in spirit and truth when I joyfully spend time with my stepson. I worship God in spirit and truth when I peacefully discuss “issues” with my husband.

What act have you committed today to express your reverence, admiration and devotion to God?

Jesus sees the woman’s open heart, the deep longing for healing, and also her confusion. To make sure there is no question in her mind, He clearly, lovingly reveals Himself plainly (not in parables) and says, “I am the Savior that you seek.”

The disciples returned and were astonished to see Jesus talking to the Samaritan woman...Do not reject His ways just because they do no fit into your preconceived notions.

In verses 28-30, we see the woman leaving her waterpot at the well, indicating she would be back. So Jesus waited.

The woman runs to tell people that she came upon a prophet and she thinks He is the Messiah they have all been waiting for.

No longer did she feel guilty or embarassed by her past choices. "He brought to light all the things I have done."

No longer did she feel inferior.

"A man may hide his sin, but once he discovers Jesus Christ, his first instinct is to say, 'Look at what I was, look at what I am now. Jesus has done this for me!'" (BSF notes John Lesson 7)


My New Favorite "Christian" Song

Lyrics to "Yahweh" by Tal & Acacia
Yahweh Song Lyrics | Tal & Acacia Lyrics | Christian Music Song Lyrics |

Gaze, I want to gaze at You
Soak, soak in all You do
Sit, so simply at Your feet
Listen, to Your voice so sweet
And let time pass away as I simply praise

Yahweh, My Lord, I cry
Jehovah Elyon, The Lord Most High
And with my hands I raise
My knees they fall
As I simply praise, Jehovah

Cry, as I see Your bloodstains
Overwhelmed, as I see Your pain
And I'll dance, dance, dance, because I am set free
You are my conqueror
Jehovah Nissi
So let time slip away as I simply praise

Yahweh, My Lord, I cry
Jehovah Elyon, The Lord Most High
And with my hands I raise
My knees they fall
As I simply praise, Jehovah

Do I believe that You're my God
That You're all I need, that You're all I need
Do I believe that You'll sit down and be crowned my King for eternity
Do I believe that You're my God
That You're all I need, that You're all I need
Do I believe that You'll sit down and be crowned my King for eternity
So let time pass away as I simply praise

Yahweh, My Lord, I cry
Jehovah Elyon, The Lord Most High
And with my hands I raise
My knees they fall
As I simply praise, Jehovah

My Daddy, My Abba, My Best Friend

Though the words aren’t life-altering or anything, the way the girls sing the lyrics immediately brings me to a place of worship, praise, repentance and awe.

Listen to a preview on

Here's a video from YouTube that plays the song.


More Humility from John the Baptist

The Humble Servant
John 3:22-36

In the second half of John 3, we get the opportunity to see how truly humble John the Baptist is.

Jesus is over in Judea, baptizing those who have chose to follow Him. John the Baptist is over in another area, Aenon, baptizing those who desired to prep their hearts for their Savior (they have not yet met Jesus).

John the Baptist baptized because there was water available. Follow his example by recognizing a need, determining if God has equipped you to fulfill it, and then doing it. Do not get so caught up in the big picture. Just ask, “Where is the water at?” and go to it.

Well John the Baptist’s disciples run to him and say, “Hey! That guy is stealing all of our followers!”

I believe John the Baptist’s disciples had good intentions. I believe they greatly believed in the work they were doing for God and felt like there was an injustice somewhere. But sometimes, a friend’s sympathy and suggestions of injustice can be the worst possible thing for us. This can make us feel sorry for ourselves, start a root of bitterness, and even shake our faith in God.

Are you such a friend? Do you put such thoughts against other people in a friend’s mind, thereby sinning and causing them to sin? In Proverbs 6, a worthless person is one who “spreads strife among brothers.”

The Baptist, ignoring the bait to become envious, retorts, “I TOLD you I am not the Christ! If He is baptizing then it means God WANTS Him to baptize.” From verse 27, we can deduce that the children of God do not earn or choose their spiritual gifts. God gives them to us out of love and mercy.

I think that my kinship with John the Baptist is in his contentment with his lot in life. God chose him to be in second place, and John the Baptist is totally cool with that. I am a very gracious, kind, loyal, and loving person. Some would tell you that I am a doormat, but truly, I believe that my calling is to show others unconditional love – even at a high cost. And I’m totally cool with that. Don’t misunderstand – I’m not a “saint,” and I do have my limits, but for the most part, I am totally content with the hand I was dealt in this life.

The beauty of John the Baptist’s humble spirit is the repeated idea that he does not need all the answers. “I just need to help others see their Savior.” Rather than wallow in self-pity because we are not in God’s special triangle, we can choose to live real. Show people what Jesus means in our lives. Jesus never said, “I love you.” He demonstrated it. If you stop telling people you love them, would they still know it?

John the Baptist then proceeds to give a beautiful analogy of humility with the best man’s excitement (not jealousy) for the groom at his wedding (verse 29). Bitterness for another’s success is a dangerous emotion that eats you from the inside out.

John 3:30 is an excellent mantra to live by, “He must increase, and I must decrease.” When you get a promotion, do you praise God? When your child does something remarkable do you give glory to God? When your paycheck covers all your bills, do you thank God for His provisions?

John 3:31 implies that John the Baptist knows his limitations. Jesus has seen Heaven and speaks of heavenly matters. John himself has not seen Heaven and can only speak of earthly matters.

Verses 31-33 are paraphrased in “The Message” very well.

“He sets out evidence of what He saw and heard in Heaven. No one wants to deal with these facts. But anyone who examines this evidence will come to stake his life on this: God Himself is the Truth.”

Verse 36 has two important parts to it. First of all, anyone who chooses to believe in Jesus as Savior immediately and permanently possesses eternal life. Second of all, the verse makes it clear that with belief comes obedience to the Son by using the two words interchangeably. Unbelief is considered disobedience and results in condemnation.

Have you yet chosen to believe in Jesus?


The Confused Pharisee

The third chapter of John contains one of my favorite tales in the Bible. Nicodemus was a man who had no clue, but yet desired clarity and eventually found it. Though this is not how my Jesus story goes, I feel a sort of sympathy for Nicodemus’ plight. He was old school; he did not understand that even the oldest of dogs can learn new tricks with the help of God.

I can relate to Nicodemus’ desire to understand, though. I too clamor for clarity. Thankfully, I am a little more open to whatever truth is presented than Nicodemus was.

In Jesus’ day, religious Jews were divided into a few different sects. The Pharisees were the “separatist” sect that wanted Jews to return to a stricter reading of the Law. The best lesson we can learn from the Pharisees, I think, is that loyalty to the truth sometimes produces pride and hypocrisy, which of course has the tendency to separate. There are ways for God’s laws to be enforced while still upholding the number one law to love.

Chapter 3 begins under the cloak of darkness. A wealthy Pharisee, Nicodemus, comes to visit Jesus. Why at night? Possibly because he did not want to catch heat from the other Jews, or maybe because Jesus was always surrounded by people during the day and Nicodemus knew his questions required Jesus’ full attention.

Immediately, Nicodemus recognizes that Jesus comes from God (verse 2) by calling Him “Rabbi.” Jesus was not a rabbi, because He did not go through the schooling, but Nicodemus respectfully gives him this title, because he can see that Jesus‘ teachings and miracles are real.

And immediately, Jesus lets Nicodemus know that acknowledging Jesus’ divine power is not enough to become a part of God’s Kingdom (verse 3). According to Jesus, one must be born again - reformed and renewed in mind and spirit by the one and only true God.

“The Message” states this so beautifully:

“When you look at a baby, it is just that; a body you can look at and touch. But the person who takes shape within is formed by something you cannot see and touch - the Spirit.”

Do you acknowledge Jesus’ divine power? If so, have you been reborn? I do not mean have you made changes within yourself to stop sinning. I mean, have you allowed God to transform and renew your mind, body and spirit?

I must admit, as I typed the words “acknowledging Jesus’ divine power is not enough,” I felt a tinge of guilt. Over the last six years, I have always acknowledged Jesus’ divine power, but only intermittently have I allowed God to reform and renew my mind.

The concept of a rebirth had never been introduced to Nicodemus. As a prominent Jewish religious leader, it never occurred to him that he was not already a shoe-in for Heaven. He was religious, wealthy, had the “right” ethnicity, and was powerful, but Jesus says to him, “None of that matters. All you need is to be born again.”

Jesus, thankfully, goes straight to our hearts, directly to our innermost thoughts (see Matthew 9:4 and John 1:47-51). He brings to the surface our confusion and gives us the sober truth, the knowledge necessary to make informed decisions.

If you are not getting the answer to prayer that you are looking for, it is possible that Jesus is reading your thoughts, not listening to your words.
In verse 5, Jesus catches our attention with the phrase “Truly, truly” (or “Verily, verily” or “I tell you the truth” depending on your translation). This phrase always means that the hearer of Jesus’ words has misunderstood and it is imperative that they overcome that before the next step of faith is introduced.

In Nicodemus’ case, he wanted Jesus to simply lead him further along the good path he was already on. Jesus, however, bluntly told Nicodemus that he actually wasn’t even on the right path.

“Water” in verse 5 refers to the Word of God. Thus, a man is “born again” when God gives new birth through the Bible’s Words and the mysterious working of His Holy Spirit. (1 Corinthians 1:21 and Titus 3:5)

“Flesh is flesh” in verse 6 refers to the fallen human nature that is passed on from generation to generation. This sinful nature can be conquered with a spiritual rebirth that creates within us a new self. (1 Corinthians 2:1-5)

The phrase “born again” is a metaphor that shows the individual has changed so much it is as if he were created all over again. It is not a human achievement. How often have we set a New Year’s resolution only to fail? True change comes from God above.

2 Corinthians 5:17, Ephesians 4:24 and Colossians 3:10 are some verses that talk about the “new self.” We are a new person when we receive Christ through the Holy Spirit into the innermost part of our being. He makes us alive (Ephesians 2:1-5). There are new emotions, new attitudes, new opinions, and new willpowers - even new days. Biblical truths previously foreign become clear and we realize we belong to God. He is for us and we are for Him. This new creation takes place when the Holy Spirit (who might have previously been with us, influencing us from the outside) now enters our body and permanently indwells our being. The experience of new birth is often described as “receiving the Holy Spirit into your heart,” but truly, the source and fulfillment cannot be explained. Verse 8 tells us that this new birth is a beautiful divine mystery that is a gift to each of God’s children, “…like the wind, you do not know where it comes from or where it is going…”

Just like Nicodemus in verse 9, we respond negatively to far-fetched ideas. We are not amazed by simple truths, but instead refuse to lovingly embrace the wonderful, mysterious ways of the Trinity. We resort to science to disprove the logistical impossibility of a loving Creator.

At this point (verse 10), Jesus seems to throw his hands up. It is as if He says, “Look, Rabbi, you came up to me. Do not waste my time with your questions if you are just going to refuse to listen to my answers. I have SEEN Heaven! (verse 13) Do you think I would bother coming to Earth if Heaven was not worth it?!!”

Verse 14 and 15 refer to Numbers 21:4-9 when the people traveling with Moses were (once again) grumbling and disbelieving in their mission. To punish their disbelief God sent serpents to bite them. Once they realized their wrong-doing, God had Moses put a bronze serpent and hung it on a high pole, for all to see. Anyone who chose to look upon the serpent was healed.

Like the grumblers in the desert, we too are saved when we recognize that Jesus Christ, hung on a cross, heals our wounds. The wages of sin is death (Romans) and all fall short and sin. But God so loved the human race that He devised a solution.

He sent His perfect, beautiful only son to die an unearned death so that our sins are forever reconciled and we may spend eternity with Him. (John 3:16)

Merely gazing upon the snake with belief that the snake could heal is what saved the people in the desert. When we gaze in faith at Jesus bearing both our sin and it’s due punishment, so too, we “do not perish.”

Jesus warns people against a real hell more than He speaks of the glory of Heaven. In my opinion, there is indeed a hell - a life everlasting without the love, grace and peace of God. I do not know if there is a horned man with a pitchfork running the place. I do know that Revelation 20:14-15 calls it a second death. I do not know about you, but one death is more than enough for me.

I recently explained to my five-year-old that those who chose to not believe in Jesus will never be able to be in Heaven with Him. That like the sadness and loneliness and fear that a little boy feels when forgotten at school is how nonbelievers will feel for eternity. Regardless of what the actual place called Hell is like, I know that I chose Heaven because I never want to be without the love of my Father.

Verses 17 and 18 often get overlooked by the much more popular 3:16, but I think they deserve an in-depth look.

“The Message” reads:
“God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending His Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help.”

Men judge themselves! Those who believe in Him are never judged. Those who chose to reject Him have long-since been judged.

Ever notice how people are so quick to shout out “Don’t judge me!” That is our inherent guilt judging OURSELVES but being unable to face the shame that sin brings.

Jesus reiterates this point in verses 19-21. He says, “Light came into the world, and like cockroaches, men and women scattered for the darkness. Why? Because everyone who chooses to sin is addicted to denial and delusion, hates light and refuses to come near it in fear that their evil deeds will be exposed. But those who chose to live in truth welcome the light because then his deeds are added to God’s glory.”

Verses 18-20 force us to make a choice. To chose to deny Jesus results inevitably to live and die under condemnation. To choose condemnation shows a greater love for darkness than light. It means you prefer sin and rebellion to truth, goodness and holiness.

God’s redemption is available to all. Unfortunately, some accept and do not, but God’s purpose was to redeem. (1 Timothy 4:10)

Verse 21 implies, however, that choosing to believe in Chris also has responsibilities. It means you believe He is divine and human. You believe He died on the cross for your sins. It means you believe that only through Chris do you have access to God, to Heaven, to eternal life. It also means that you will live for God as you were created to as outlined in Scripture. It means you know and do bring your sins to light - you know that however ensnared in darkness you are, He can deliver you.

John 3:1-21 does not leave us with a positive opinion of Nicodemus’ hopes for passing through the grand pearly gates. But Jesus provides the ultimate encouragement in verse 21, “Take courage. You shall find light and life in Me.”

I once read an endearing biographical description of Nicodemus:

“Although he possessed much of the honor and wealth this world can offer, undoubtedly having lived a good morally upright life, he was unsatisfied…living in a kind of spiritual darkness, he came in the dark for Jesus to give him light. It was indeed a miracle of grace that Nicodemus, who belonged to a group so strongly prejudiced against Jesus, should come at all. A greater miracle of grace lies in the fact that ultimately this conversation resulted in the conversion of Nicodemus and an increasingly bold confession of his faith in Jesus as the Son of God.”

I, too, have been “unsatisfied” the majority of my life. Thankfully, God is gracious and good and has helped me to find a greater fulfillment than I ever thought possible. I pray today that you, too, can find fulfillment in the love and peace and joy of our Lord.