FRIDAY, JUNE 16
SCRIPTURE: John 3
Today we get to take a look at one of the most familiar of all the chapters in the Bible. It is the most familiar because it contains the best known verse, John 3:16. There are a few things, however, we need to talk about before we get to that verse.
The first person that we are introduced to in this chapter is Nicodemus. He is a Pharisee. Among other things, that means he would have lived by the strictest possible religious rules. Although I bad mouth Pharisees as hypocrites fairly often, I will surely admit that not all Pharisees were necessarily hypocrites. As a point in case, I don’t think Nicodemus was hypocritical. I think he was lost. I think he was confused. But to his credit, he was searching.
It is interesting that when Nicodemus spoke to Jesus, he said, “We…” Perhaps he was there on behalf of some other folks. He may have even been there on behalf of the Sanhedrin. Regardless of who the “we” was, salvation is not a “we” issue”. It is a “me” issue.
In fact, in verse 3, Jesus turns the conversation specifically to Nicodemus. Jesus said, “I say to you…” The point of Jesus’ statement to Nicodemus was that he had to born again. Such a statement was more than radical.
To begin with it seemed to attack Nicodemus’ heritage. Remember, he was born into a Jewish family. He was part of God’s chosen people. His birth heritage should have opened up all kinds of spiritual opportunities. But now Jesus is saying that he has to be born again. In other words, there is a birth that is more important than being born a Jew. That would have been hard for a Jew to accept.
The second thing is Nicodemus was completely confused. He took this as a physical rebirth. And the only way he would imagine that happening would be for a man to reenter his mother’s womb. Of course, Jesus was not speaking of a physical rebirth at all but a spiritual birth.
This is made clear in verse 5 when Jesus speaks of being born of water and the Spirit. The being born of water is a reference to physical birth. Being born of the Spirit is a reference to spiritual birth.
There are some that want to make this “born of water” a baptism issue. But in the New Testament, baptism is connected with death not birth. Think about this. When we baptize, we say, “Buried with Him in baptism…” Being baptized, being put under the water, is a symbol of the death of the old man. Then he is “Raised to new life”. Life comes after baptism. Baptism is not a means to life.
This issue of baptism is made even more clearly in John 3:16. The promise of eternal life is made to those who believe. There is no mention of being baptized. Baptism is not necessary for salvation. If you are still wrestling with this, then think about it logically. If sin is the problem (and it is), baptism cannot wash away our sin. Water baptism cannot cleanse us from our sin. Our sin is a problem of the heart. It is an internal problem. It doesn’t matter how many times you are baptized, that water cannot touch the problem because the problem of sin is not on us. It is in us.
That doesn’t mean baptism isn’t important. It is. Every believer should be Scripturally baptized. Scriptural baptism is about the right person. The person being baptized needs to have been saved. Scriptural baptism is about the right method. The method of baptism is total immersion. And Scriptural baptism is about the right purpose. The purpose of baptism is a testimony of salvation.