04.5 John – Born from above, Born again

When John discussed Jesus, he said that He comes from above and is above all.

When Jesus addressed Nicodemus at the beginning of the chapter, He replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.”  The word used for “again”, is the same word that also means “from above”

When we are “born again”, we are not born again the same.  When we descend into the water of baptism, either in sprinkling or in full immersion, we symbolically follow the path of Christ into the grave, leaving our sins to be washed in the water and to emerge into a new life of the Spirit.  We are born again not of the flesh and to the flesh but from above to the Spirit.

Jesus was the first human to be born “from above.”  He is the first born of the saved and brother to all who follow Him, as the first Son of all the children of God.

As those who follow Him, we are directed to follow the model of John the Baptist.  We must speak the truth.  We must accept Jesus as our Lord.  We must recognize and pronounce Him for all that He is, the bridegroom, the one who comes from heaven, the Messiah.  We must become smaller so that we reflect more of His light.

And, most importantly, we must have joy.  We share the love of Jesus by sharing the joy of salvation, the peace that passes all understanding, that keeps our hearts and minds on Him.

My Answers:

13.
1. He spoke the truth.  2. He pointed to Jesus.  3. He accepted Jesus as His Lord and testified as such 4. He recognized the voice of God present in Jesus

14.
God, the bridegroom, the greater.  He comes from above all and is above all.  He comes from Heaven and is Lord.  He is the Son of God the Father

04.4 John – Loves the world

This week I was having a time of growing weary and discouraged in the events of the world.  I was involved in conducting interviews at work and had a number of candidates discussing their work history and seeing the impact of some of the poor decisions they had made in their lives and the impact those decisions have made.  And, let’s face it, who can read or watch the news these days, especially politics or the economy, and not grow increasingly weary and discourage by the world.

So, when I read our memory verses for this next week, it hit me hard.  John 3:16-17 – “For God so loved the world…”  How can God possibly love this world.  At every turn we choose sin over holiness.  We choose darkness instead of light.  We choose paths that lead to pain and suffering instead of goodness and glory.  We choose ourselves over others and especially over God.

But the Word of God does not lie.  God does love us, all of us.  He loves us enough that He sent His son, Jesus, into the world to die for us.  He loves us enough to do all the work of redemption of our sins, all sins, for all mankind, for all time.  He also loves us enough to give us free-will and choice, even when He knows we will choose to reject Him.  He even loves us enough to be just, even when justice means condemnation, wrath and everlasting destruction.

But no one is sentenced to being shut out.  No one has done something which is irredeemable.  No one has gone so far that He cannot bring them back.  No one lacks the means to be redeemed because redemption is not paid by our blood but by Jesus’ work on the cross.

I was convicted by these words to not grow disheartened, but to see God’s love.  I can still hate the sin of the world.  It can still anger me and bring me to tears, but, God’s creation is His creation and, as He said “in the beginning”, in His eyes, it is good.  And, while we breath, their is still hope for all people of the world, because God’s love is great enough.  We need only repent, and turn to Him and accept the gift of that love.

My Answers:

10.
J316: shall perish and not have eternal life
J317: not saved, condemned – love darkness, stay in evil
J336: will not see life, God’s wrath remains on them
2T18: punished with everlasting destruction & shut out from the presence of the Lord & His glory

11.
not condemned, has eternal life, no wrath remains on them

12.
Light has come to the world.  Jesus is evident and available to each and every one (God loves “the world”, not just believers).  But many love darkness because their actions (and their hearts) are evil and do not wish for their wickedness to be exposed in the light but to continue to live in the lie of sin

04.3 John – Satan co-ops and corrupts, God creates and clears up

In 1400 B.C. Moses is told by God to make and image of a snake on a stick and hold it up.  Those who looked upon the image and had faith were saved and did not die.  Talk about some strange bible stories!

But, like the rest of the bible, this is a story that points to Jesus and helps us understand the attributes of God.

With Moses, God used snakes, a creature most commonly associated with the serpent from the garden, a representation of evil and wickedness, to bring His people back to repentance.  The snakes desired only to kill.  But God instructed Moses to take the thing that brought death and hang it on a pole so that by looking on it and believing, the people might be saved from death and healed.

With Jesus, He Himself took on all the sin of the world, the thing that desired only to kill.  As Isaiah prophesied in 52:14, His appearance was so disfigured beyond that of any human being and his form marred beyond human likeness.  But all who look upon the work of Jesus on the cross and believe are saved from eternal death and are healed.

I was struck as well by the way Satan has always worked to co-opt and corrupt that which God has made.  We see evidence of it in the garden of Eden, in the way he twisted God’s gifts into temptation.  We see it in the image of the snake on the pole, as well.  Moses, at God’s direction, made it in 1400 B.C.  By 700 B.C, the people had begun to worship the item, the image of the snake on the pole, and Hezekiah, at God’s direction, destroyed it.  300 years later, the Greeks bring it back as the Rod of Asclepius, a greek god, who just happened to be the god of medicine (go figure!).  The symbol was adopted through the ages by physicians and still is used on many hospitals and doctors’ offices, ambulances and treatment centers world wide.

But while evil works to hide and disguise, God’s Word, opens the eyes of those who believe in Him and study His word.  Those in darkness see a snake on stick.  Those in the light see our sins hung on the cross through the sacrifice of Jesus.

This is evident in so many other things as well.  Those in the dark see Christmas as a season of spending and profiting.  Those with sight see that all have a yearning to share with each other, like We have a yearning to share the good news and great gifts of the birth of our Lord and Savior.  Those in the dark see a rainbow as a celebration of homosexuality.  Those in the light know it is a promise by God never to destroy mankind again regardless of the level of sin and depravity.

And, like the snake on the staff – what is foolishness to man is a symbol of great hope to those who believe.

My Answers:

6.
The prophets had spoken of an indwelling of the Holy Spirit as well, a new heart, put my Spirit in you and you will live

7.
a.
JTB

b.
He was speaking first to the pharisees and Jewish leaders, but also broader to the Hebrews who looked only for a spectacle.  If they have not been willing to listen to Jesus and John about things going on in the midst, how can they hear about heaven

8.
It was a foreshadowing of the healing power of the Cross.  By taking on the image of that which was causing death (with Moses it was snakes, with Jesus it was the sin of the world), and then being raised up as a “sign” to look at and be healed when accompanied with a repentant and honest heart.

9.
a.
Life was a gift given to me (us/mankind) by God to live in unity with Him.  Sin is a choice I/we have made to stand apart from God.  The result is that I no longer have rights to life.  Death is the cost of that disobedience.  Jesus paid the price to save me.

b.
That He did this for me not based on anything I do or did and while I was still steeped in sin.  It is a free gift for my benefit alone.

04.2 John – See to Believe

The conversation between Jesus and Nicodemus is, arguably, one of the most interesting in the scriptures.  As noted in our lesson, Nicodemus is a Jewish leader, a pharisee and likely a member of the Sanhedrin.  He is very, very well educated and, most likely someone who is considered both by others and by himself as being very devout in his faith.

He comes to Jesus as a seeker, but as a seeker who already knows what he wants and expects.  He doesn’t come to Jesus with a question, he comes to Him with a statement.  In Jesus he recognizes something different, something from God, something that is not evident (at least to the same degree) in others.  He addresses Jesus as teacher, Rabbi, and, I believe, his expectation is that this teacher will teach him how to add that on to his life.  He is looking for an add-on module, another tool in his already very full toolbox.

And, Jesus, despite not being asked a question, gives Nicodemus the answer to the final exam.  You must be born again.

Nicodemus is looking for some teaching, some knowledge, some power that he can acquire that will add to his life and beliefs.  Jesus says believe and you will have knowledge and power and eternal life.

It is the difference between seeing to believe and believing to see.  It takes us back to Nathanael in John 1 who also called Jesus Rabbi when he believed because of what Jesus told him.

Think of it this way.  The writing that we seek is written on the wall, it is plain, it is freely available, it is everything that we seek to fulfill us and join us in unity with God.  But a wall has 2 sides.  To truly see the writing, we must pass through the doorway.  That doorway is belief in Jesus, it is being born anew.  It is becoming a soul with a body, not a body with a soul.  There is no cost of entry (Jesus paid it all).  There is no penalty or nothing that is demanded from us.  There is nothing we add to or give.  We simply either step through or we do not.  But stepping through the door changes everything.

It is interesting to see the difference that step makes.  Nathanael was able to walk with Jesus and grow in faith and power and love every day.  Nicodemus, while having continued inward struggles, remained fixed on the other side of the wall.  John 7:48-49:  “Have any of the rulers or of the Pharisees believed in him?  No! But this mob that knows nothing of the law—there is a curse on them.”  Nicodemus missed out.  The last mention we have of Nicodemus is still one in secret as he helps Joseph of Arimathea take the body of Jesus from Pilate without it being known by the Jewish leaders.  He helps wrap the dead Christ and brings 75 lbs of myrrh and aloes and lays Him in the tomb.

My Answers:

3.
a.
It is what must come first – Faith before comprehension, faith before spiritual power, faith before teaching

b.
Jesus is discussing spiritual gifts and Nicodemus is stuck in the physical world.  Nicodemus is searching for God in the physical (signs and miracles), Jesus is explaining that He is to be found in Spiritual rebirth which then bridges the spiritual and physical

4.
Human life comes from human parents, flesh refers to human nature, flesh refers to the physical world

5.
a.
dead in transgressions and sins – Without rebirth we are dead in sin

b.
It is by faith alone that one is reborn.  It is in both the act of accepting the gift of salvation and inviting the spirit to dwell within combined with a desire to grow in holiness and love for Him who first loved me.