December 10th, 2006
Probably the most famous verse in the Bible is John 3:16. It’s a verse which is said to encapsulate the whole of the message of Christianity. People turn up at sporting events holding signs which say “John 3:16”, hoping that they will be picked up by the TV cameras. So what does it all mean, and how do you define the essence of Christianity in 25 words or less? The verse reads: “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.” There are four main components: God loved, God gave, we believe, we receive.
John’s Account of the Good News — Chapter 3
3:1 One of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a Jewish leader, 3:2 came to Jesus one night and said, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher sent by God, because no one could do the miraculous signs that you do, unless God was with him.” 3:3 Jesus answered him, “There is no doubt that a person cannot see the Kingdom of God without being born again.” 3:4 Nicodemus said to him, “How can an adult be born? Can people re-enter their mothers’ wombs, and be born for a second time?”
3:5 Jesus answered, “I can guarantee that someone cannot enter the Kingdom of God without being born of water and spirit! 3:6 Whatever is born of the flesh is flesh. Whatever is born of the Spirit is spirit. 3:7 Don’t be surprised that I said, ‘You must be born again.’ 3:8 The wind blows where it wants to, and you hear its sound, but don’t know where it comes from and where it is going. It’s the same with people who are born of the Spirit.” 3:9 Nicodemus asked, “How can this happen?”
3:10 Jesus answered, “Do you as a teacher of Israel not understand these things? 3:11 We really are speaking about things which we know, and giving evidence of things which we have seen, but you people don’t accept our evidence. 3:12 If you don’t believe when I tell you about worldly things, how will you believe if I tell you about heavenly things? 3:13 No one has gone up into heaven except the one who came down from heaven, the Son of Man. 3:14 Just like Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, the Son of Man must be lifted up, 3:15 so that everyone who believes in him can have eternal life. 3:16 God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. 3:17 God didn’t send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but for the world to be saved through him. 3:18 Someone who believes in him is not condemned. Someone who doesn’t believe has been condemned already, because that person has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. 3:19 This is the judgment: The light has come into the world, but people loved the darkness rather than the light because their actions were evil. 3:20 People who do evil hate the light, and don’t come to the light, in case their actions are exposed. 3:21 People who act with integrity come to the light, so that it can be clearly seen that their actions have been done in God.”
3:22 Afterwards Jesus went with his disciples to the land of Judea. He stayed there with them, baptizing people. 3:23 John was also baptizing at Aenon near Salim, because there was plenty of water there. People came to be baptized. 3:24 John had not yet been thrown into prison. 3:25 John’s disciples became engaged in a debate with a Jew about purification. 3:26 They came to John and said, “Rabbi, the man who was with you on the other side of the Jordan, about whom you testified, is baptizing people and everyone is going to him.”
3:27 John answered, “A person cannot receive anything unless it is given from heaven. 3:28 You yourselves can testify that I said, ‘I am not the Christ,’ but, ‘I have been sent before him.’ 3:29 The person who has the bride is the bridegroom, and the friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, is delighted to hear the bridegroom’s voice. So my joy is complete. 3:30 He must increase, but I must decrease. 3:31 Someone who comes from above is above all. Someone who is from the Earth belongs to the Earth, and speaks of the Earth. The one who comes from heaven is above all. 3:32 He testifies about what he has seen and heard, but virtually no one accepts his testimony. 3:33 A person who does accept his testimony can certify that God is true. 3:34 The man sent by God speaks the words of God, because God gives the Spirit without limit. 3:35 The Father loves the Son, and has put him in charge of everything. 3:36 Someone who believes in the Son has eternal life, but someone who disobeys the Son will not see life, as the wrath of God rests on him.”