Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. 2 This man came to Jesus by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him.” 3 Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” 4 Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” 5 Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ 8 The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”

9 Nicodemus said to him, “How can these things be?” 10 Jesus answered him, “Are you the teacher of Israel and yet you do not understand these things? 11 Truly, truly, I say to you, we speak of what we know, and bear witness to what we have seen, but you do not receive our testimony. 12 If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you heavenly things? 13 No one has ascended into heaven except he who descended from heaven, the Son of Man. 14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, 15 that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.

16 “For God so loved the world,[i] that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. 19 And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. 20 For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. 21 But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.”

Personal Reflection and Discussion

Being that the most popular verse in the Bible is in this study.  There are tons to unpack.  Short on time, pick a couple of these questions and come back later for more!

  1. What was the biggest sacrifice you’ve seen someone make for another?
  2. Among Christians this is a very familiar story. John 3:16 might well be the best known verse of Scripture.

Underline words—phrases—concepts that you  find important in these 21 verses.    

*A new or renewed thought for me is….

  1. How would you describe Nicodemus in this story? How would you describe Jesus?
  2. In vs 3-8, Jesus is talking about being born again.  What is “spiritual birth” or being “born again”? How does “spiritual birth” happen?

   John 20:31                 

   Romans 1:16              

   Romans 10:14-17

   1 Corinthians 12:3

   Titus 3:4-6

   Matthew 12:31-32

  1. I have often hear that the word justified can be summed up by this clever play on words, “Just if I’d had never sinned”.  How is Christ justifying things differ from other forms of justifying we have tried in the past.  How has the worldly concept been flawed?
  2. What is the context for verses 14-15 (see Num 21:7-9; Jn 8:28; Jn 12:32-34)?
  3. “For God so loved the world that he gave….He sacrificed his only Son.  Though the Christian walk may contain many kinds of sacrifice, what is more acceptable to God according to Proverbs 21:3?  
  4. After reading James 1:17 and 1 John 4:18 what does that say about our “giving”? How does Mark 8:37 best describe the alternative?
  5. John 3:16 is perhaps the best known and most loved passage of Scripture, but v 17 is quite powerful as well. What does v 17 say or suggest to Christians about our witness in and to a non-Christian world (see Mt 11:19; Lk 15:1-7; Lk 19:10; 1 Cor 2:2)?
  6. What is the purpose of the light in verses 19-21? How do you understand this in view of John 8:12 and 1 John 1:7-9?
  7. Christian music group Relient K sang, “The beauty of grace is that it makes life unfair.”  Thoughts?
  8. If you have time for much more depth, answer this: When were we given His Son?  That is, when were we given the promise of eternal life?  When was/is your sin forgiven?  Furthermore, how is this included in your belief in Jesus? Rom. 5:12–21; Phil. 3:8–9; 2 Cor. 5:19–21 Something to consider as we venture through John, why are we asked to confess our sin if all has already been forgiven?  If you aren’t sure of the answer, it’s great that we have the opportunity to keep searching for answers together!

Prayer

Jesus, You came not to condemn but to save.  I find it significant that Your sacrifice for sin comes before judgment.  I believe this is in order that judgment might happen through the lens of Your atoning sacrifice.  (1 Jn 2:2; Ro 3:23-25; Romans 6:23) The judgment I deserved, You received in order that Your righteousness might be mine.  (2 Cor 5:21)  Help me to take the time to really reflect upon it – You are in love for me, chief of sinners, and You gave YOUR Son!   Jesus, teach and move me so to love.  Love people through me today.

Greek Word of the Day

English Word: Loved | Transliterated Word: Agapeo

To love (from agan) much.  It differs from phileo (to love, indicating feelings, warm affection, the love expressed by a kiss. Philadelphia: City of Brotherly Love) Agape is to love, to regard with strong affection.

Family Engagement Activity

Play a game of charades or Pictionary!  Make a list of all the people that God loves (everyone!) and put all the names in a hat and have your family either act out different people whom God loves or draw them.  Have fun by putting in aunts, uncles, grandparents, celebrities, different people you see on a weekly basis.  Whomever.

Going Activity

Who is the person in your life that is the greatest or most outspoken skeptic of faith, the one that might be seriously considering it’s authenticity.  Show them examples of the profound emphasis Christ puts on a personal relationship rather than scholasticism.  Prepare today to love them like crazy three times in the next week.  Make it sacrificial and allow them to show God “so loved” by sacrifice. 

 

OR—

 

Write or call someone who best exemplifies AGAPE love, sacrificial love and thank them for allowing Christ to be seen in their sacrifice.

OR—

Write or call someone who best exemplifies AGAPE love, sacrificial love and thank them for allowing Christ to be seen in their sacrifice. 

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