As I mentioned last week, I am scribing the gospel of John with friends. Mainly, I want to engage with God’s word in a more personal way. I am learning more each day! Last week, I shared a little about Nicodemus in John Chapter 3, but am still thinking about him…
I used to think Nicodemus went to Jesus at night because he feared what everyone (his fellow Pharisees) would think. That may be true, in part, but as a friend recently suggested, maybe he didn’t want to be interrupted by all the crowds that followed Jesus.
Perhaps it’s a parallel that Nicodemus (in spiritual darkness) sought Jesus, the Light of the World (which John mentions later). At any rate, I’m guessing Nicodemus was so intently searching for truth and answers that he couldn’t wait until morning to talk with Jesus.
Similarly, there are times I cannot sleep at night because I am dealing with something. In fact, this happened to me recently. Each time I woke up in the night, I had a prayer on my lips for a friend in need. I love that Jesus is always available to listen, help, comfort and teach us…even in the middle of the night.
We do not have to question if Jesus wants to help. Whenever we come to Jesus for help, we will receive encouragement and direction. That said, we also may receive correction like Nicodemus… We need to be willing to do whatever Jesus says.
v.10 “You are Israel’s teacher,” said Jesus, “and do you not understand these things?
Here, Jesus gets on Nicodemus for being a spiritual leader without actually understanding spiritual concepts. Ouch… Apparently, the Jews had created eight different ways one could be ‘born again’ (all physical things to do to earn God’s favor). The Jews missed the point of spiritual rebirth and salvation from sin.
But Jesus made it simple.
Interestingly, in my Bible, the words of John 3:16-21 are not in red, suggesting that perhaps Jesus did not say them. This surprised me because I always thought it was Jesus talking. It seems that this may be John’s explanation of what Jesus was saying.
I asked my friends for their input (on who said what) and learned some other Bibles and translations handle this differently. Many Bibles have those words in ‘red letters’ or quotations, but not the one I am using currently… So, I did some prayerful searching online and saw this is a common question.
Various Bible scholars have wondered the same! No one has an exact answer because (ahem) we weren’t there. But either way, the basic consensus is that the words are inspired by God and the message does not change.
We don’t have to lose sleep over what God meant in John 3:16. The point is: God so loved the world and so Jesus came. God gave us Jesus, our Savior, and we have eternal life through Him alone.
We know John did not record every single word or action Jesus did (John 21:25), and that’s okay! Instead of agonizing over the details, we will let the Holy Spirit lead us.
Here are a few takeaways:
It is common to hurry through our day, but in doing so, perhaps we are missing what Jesus really said (or maybe didn’t say). There is always more to the text than meets the eye—I love that my friends are picking up different aspects of the same text!
Nicodemus came directly to Jesus for answers to his deepest questions. He didn’t rely on someone else to ask for him. Jesus often spoke in metaphors and I love that Nicodemus sought clarity. Also, he trusted Jesus’ perspective and didn’t make it about himself.
Studying the Bible with other people can help everyone grow in faith. Nonetheless, we have to personally apply what Scripture says to our own lives.
Finally, God’s Word is trustworthy. When we have questions, it’s okay! God is big enough to handle them with His grace and truth. And, when it comes to Jesus Christ, He is always worth taking a closer look!
God, thanks for the gift of Your Word! Renew our minds and draw us close to You. Teach us Your ways and lead us into deeper fellowship with You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen
Questions: Have you trusted in Jesus as your Savior? Is there anything in Scripture that you’ve had questions about lately? How can you pursue a deeper level of understanding?
Tasks: Listen to “God so Loved,” by Jaci Velasquez. When you sit down to spend time with God, ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you, Jesus, the Living Word.