Today's reading is packed with familiar stories of Jesus' ministry.
-Nicodemus is a Pharisee and comes seeking Jesus as night with pressing questions. He was a part of the ruling class and had power and influence. While the disciples jumped at the chance to follow Rabbi Jesus, Nicodemus was taking a risk. He had something to lose, but he was curious about Jesus. Nicodemus was a cerebral guy... "You can't re-enter your mother's womb and be born again. What are you saying with this 'born-from-above' talk? (MSG)".
-Jesus equates the spirit to wind. "The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit. (NIV)”I found it interesting the contrast between Jesus' mention of the Spirit and John the Baptist's statement in verse 34, "For the one whom God has sent speaks the words of God, for God gives the Spirit without limit. (NIV)"
-Again, light is used as a metaphor. My NIV Study Bible Notes: "A simple word or phrase with a profound meaning; That is the style of Jesus' teachings presented in John. No Biblical author used simpler, more commonplace words: water, world, light, life, birth, love, truth. Yet John used them with such depth that hundreds of authors since have tried to plumb their meaning" (1127).
-John 3:19-21 "This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God."
This is beautiful stuff... light is available, but we love our darkness. The thought of exposing my sin to others is not a happy thought. Embracing the light is acknowledging that every action is already done in the sight of God. But, the tone here is not one of shame... it's not about stepping into a spotlight that exposes my sin. Living in truth is more beautiful than that.
-Once again, John the Baptist is embracing his role. He equates his status to one who is attending the bridegroom as she waits. John the Baptist is a manly man, but he uses feminine/masculine language here. John 3:30 is an awesome "life verse" if you're looking for one: "He must become greater; I must become less." The Message paraphrase says: "This is the assigned moment for him to move into the center, while I slip off to the sidelines."
-In chapter four we learn that Jesus was not the primary baptizer. Jesus was sharing his ministry. I love to baptize people, sometimes it's difficult for pastor types to see others do the glitzy ministry stuff. It took some maturing, but now I love to watch our middle school small group leaders dunk teenagers.
-I love the story of the Samaritan Woman... there is so much good stuff there. The woman comes to the well in the afternoon, possibly because she wanted to escape the eyes of the other women or perhaps she slept in from a hard night of partying. It would be funny if the reason was simpler... less dramatic. What if her pot broke and she had to wait to borrow a friends. She may have been looked down on by her peers... but the do seek out Jesus when they hear what she says.
-Today I was struck by verse 29, "Come see a man who knew all about the things I did, who knows me inside and out. Do you think this could be the Messiah?" We know that Jesus told her about her 5.5 husbands... but this could have been public knowledge. What else did Jesus tell her about herself?
-Hunger is a strong drive... yet, in his humanness, Jesus was still driven by the work of the One who sent him (vs. 34). When I am hungry I'm more like a bear and less like a devoted disciple.
-God's power is not bound by proximity. Jesus is able to heal the officials son even from a distance.
-In our modern ministry setting it is typical for us to walk people through a prayer of salvation... to make the conversion process "official". I don't see this practice being used by Jesus... or anywhere else in the Bible (at least I can't think of any). The process seems to be more of a decision... or perhaps even a journey as displayed with Nicodemus. We see him three times in the book of John, in his last appearance we read of him bringing spices for the burial of Jesus.