You could call the entire chapter of John 3 – Chock Full of Core Christianity. If you read just one chapter of the Bible, I think this one should be it.
The actual verses are italicized. The notes/lessons/applications come from New Living Translation Life Application Study Bible.
3: 1-15 NICODEMUS STEPS OUT OF HIS COMFORT ZONE (AND SO CAN WE)
1 There was a man named Nicodemus, a Jewish religious leader who was a Pharisee. 2 After dark one evening, he came to speak with Jesus. “Rabbi,” he said, “we all know that God has sent you to teach us. Your miraculous signs are evidence that God is with you.”
3 Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, unless you are born again,[a] you cannot see the Kingdom of God.”
4 “What do you mean?” exclaimed Nicodemus. “How can an old man go back into his mother’s womb and be born again?”
**LESSON AND APPLICATION: Nicodemus coming to Jesus for answers provides examples that:
- No matter how intelligent and well-educated we are, we must come with open hearts and minds.
- We must examine Jesus for ourselves. This religious leader could have sent an assistant, but like Nicodemus. (i.e. Don’t rely too heavily on my Bible highlights. Explore the truth of Jesus on your own. Read your Bible.)
- God can change those that seem unreachable. A Pharisee coming to Jesus is a huge thing. Pharisees had trouble seeing past the laws of Moses, which were their focus. (Personally, I was one of those people before I came to Christ. (insert link to my Testimony, part 1.)
5 Jesus replied, “I assure you, no one can enter the Kingdom of God without being born of water and the Spirit.[b] 6 Humans can reproduce only human life, but the Holy Spirit gives birth to spiritual life.[c] 7 So don’t be surprised when I say, ‘You[d] must be born again.
8-15 Jesus continues sharing with Nicodemus what it means that He is in the world.
3:16-18 Salvation –Key Verses – and 19-36 Additional emphasis
16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes* in him will not perish but have eternal life. 17 God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him.
18 “There is no judgment against anyone who believes in him. But anyone who does not believe* in him has already been judged for not believing in God’s one and only Son. 19 And the judgment is based on this fact: God’s light came into the world, but people loved the darkness more than the light, for their actions were evil. 20 All who do evil hate the light and refuse to go near it for fear their sins will be exposed. 21 But those who do what is right come to the light so others can see that they are doing what God wants.[g]”
31-32 Additional emphasis that Jesus is the Son of God. But too few believe what he tells them. 33 Anyone who accepts his testimony can affirm that God is true. 34 For he is sent by God. He speaks God’s words, for God gives him the Spirit without limit. 35 The Father loves his Son and has put everything into his hands. 36 And anyone who believes* in God’s Son has eternal life. Anyone who doesn’t obey the Son will never experience eternal life but remains under God’s angry judgment.”
***IMPORTANT: The word ‘believe’, in Greek, means to trust in, to have faith. So, to intellectually believe is not enough. Think about it – Satan believes in God. You can believe in a drug that cures your disease, but until you trust in it, take it, and make it part of your life, you will not be cured.
Also see Romans 10:9: 9 If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord (Master and Ruler) and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
APPLICATION: To believe means to trust His words as reliable and to rely on Him for the power to change. Put your trust and confidence in Christ.**
3:27-30 – JtB – JESUS’ HUMBLE PUBLIC RELATIONS GUY, and HEY, I’M NOT THE COMPETITION!
27-30 John the Baptist was baptizing people in the Judean countryside. John’s disciples complained that everyone was going to Jesus to be baptized instead of going to John. (Remember, this is not the same John as the disciple that wrote this gospel.)
John tells them that Jesus is the Son of God; He is greater than himself. Jesus must become greater, and John must become less. As he plainly told them before, he is only there to prepare the way for the Messiah. He – John – is not the Messiah. Jesus is the Messiah.
LESSON (3:27-30): Do not be jealous of someone else’s ministry.
PERSONAL THOUGHT (not mentioned in the study notes of my Bible): Like John the Baptist, we are each messengers of the gospel – for the truth of Jesus – or we should be. If one person or one church is better able to influence others to salvation and a relationship with God, there should be no jealousy. I don’t know if there is – it’s just an example of what we can take away from the passage – that we are not competitors.