I NEVER THOUGHT I WOULD HAVE A FAVORITE CHAPTER OF THE BIBLE. I ALWAYS CONSIDERED THAT TO BE “MISSION IMPOSSIBLE”.
So I can’t explain what happened to me the other day when I was having my morning cup of Bible and I read this chapter and it was like, “Wow, I think this is my favorite chapter.”
I have memorized Psalms chapters 1, 23, 91, and 112 so I can quote and pray them on a regular basis, but my favorite chapter is none of them. I also love the chapters containing the Sermon on the Mount! (Matthew 5-7) But it’s none of them either. So imagine a drum roll if you will, as I reveal my favorite chapter to be: St. John 3. (And it is not because of 3:16, even though that is such an important verse, but it is the whole chapter! Even from the way it starts to the way it ends.)
Imagine this, a Pharisee, a sage, a religious leader, a mystic, a seeker of God and truth sneaking around in the dark of night to have a secret meeting with the nomadic rebel teacher, Jesus! In dark of night! This man is desperate for a private counsel with this mysterious man of God known as Jesus, but he doesn’t want his fellow religious leaders to know. He is risking his reputation, his status , everything, to ask this Prophet a few questions. He wants to see for himself! One on one! So he comes like a ninja in the night, hiding in shadows, looking over his shoulder as he hurries along to his secret meeting, and what does Jesus tell him?
“You must be born again.” (Whaaat?)
Can you imagine? Nicodemus is not your average Bible student, and he is not a fool. Most likely he is above average in intellect and very serious about this secret mission. He has seen some of the miracles and he knows this Jesus must be sent from God, but his answers seem to come from another world! He confuses everyone with riddles and parables. Whaaat?
Jesus begins going deeper with the riddle. But can Nicodemus follow him deeper? You must be born of water and the Holy Spirit. Humans can reproduce only human life, but the Holy Spirit gives birth to spiritual life.
I can imagine that Nico’s head is spinning as Jesus then say, “The wind blows wherever it wants. Just as you can hear the wind but can’t tell where it comes from or where it is going, so you can’t explain how people are born of the Spirit.” (WOW!)
NOW IT GETS EVEN BETTER! JESUS CHALLENGES NICODEMUS!
“You are a respected Jewish teacher, and yet you don’t understand these things?” (WOE!)
This chapter starts out like a book that grabs you from the very first page and just when you think the plot can’t get anymore exciting or intense, it does!
“I assure you, we tell you what we know and have seen…if you don’t believe me when I tell you about earthly things, how can you possibly believe if I tell you about heavenly things? No one has ever gone to heaven and returned. But the Son of Man has come down from heaven.”
IN OTHER WORDS, I’M THE ONLY ONE WHO CAN TELL YOU WHAT I HAVE SEEN WITH MY OWN EYES, NICODEMUS. I’M NOT TELLING YOU WHAT I READ IN A BOOK. I’M TELLING YOU HEAVENLY DETAILS I HAVE SEEN WITH MY OWN EYES. EVERYTHING I DO AND SPEAK COMES FROM ONE WHO HAS BEEN THERE, AND I HAVE COME FROM THERE, AND I’M GIVING YOU FIRST HAND ACCOUNTS OF WHAT MAN HAS NEVER SEEN! (WOE & WOW!!!)
After this is when he explains how greatly God loves mankind, that he has sent me to save them, and whosoever believes on him shall be saved. There is no judgment against anyone who believes in him! However, for those who do not believe, they are judged already. Jesus has not come to judge, but to save us from the judgment already on us!
Now another climatic moment comes when Jesus says, “And the judgment is based on this fact:”… Now stop the movie right here for a moment. This is where a stupid commercial break cuts in and leaves you hanging! The judgment is based on this fact! (What is he going to say? What is it all based on? I can hardly wait to know!) Commercial finally over!
“God’s light came into the world…but people loved the darkness more than the light…for their actions were evil. All who do evil hate the light…and refuse to go near it…for fear their sins will be exposed.
But those who do what is right…come to the light…so others can see they are doing what God wants.”
What a thunderous revelation! It all comes down to whether we are drawn to light, or not? Whether we love the darkness or the light? God’s light came into the world, but man loved darkness more! This is a strong word of revelation Nicodemus is receiving in the dark of the night!
But the chapter goes on: Nicodemus exits, and John the Baptist enters in! John reveals that Jesus must become greater and greater, while he will decrease, fade into the background. Then he confirms that Jesus has “Come form above, and is greater than anyone else!” We are earthly, he explains, but Jesus comes from heaven and testifies of what he has seen and heard with his own eyes and ears!
AND THEN A VERY SAD STATEMENT: BUT HOW FEW BELIEVE WHAT HE TELLS THEM!
This is a major point, John 3 makes it not once, but twice! Once by Jesus himself, and then by John the Baptist! Jesus is first hand witness to the realities and glories of heaven, God’s Kingdom, and he came here to show and tell!
BUT HOW FEW BELIEVE HIM.
When I read this chapter I am hit with so many waves of feelings and revelation that I stand amazed. Questions roll through my mind like, why am I “attracted” to the light, and others are not? And also, how can anyone not be attracted to his light?
In verse 44 John reveals that Jesus has been given the Holy Spirit without limit! So…am I limited? What measure do I have? Can I increase that measure? WOW. Now I am challenged as to what I shall do?
Finally, a thunderous conclusion. This chapter keeps hitting to the very end.
“Any who believes in God’s Son has eternal life.” (The AMAZING grace of God. What a great treasure to be rejected by so many.)
“Anyone who doesn’t obey the Son will never experience eternal life but remains under God’s angry judgment.”
I see the lightning flash, I hear the thunder roll, and the chapter ends.