I. John 3:18-36
A. Recap on 16-17, God loved the world so much that He sent His son into the world to save it, whoever believes in the Son is saved. God didn’t send His Son to condemn the world but through His Son wanted to save the world.
B. Jesus didn’t come to judge us to condemn us, because we were already judged and condemned. He came to save us.
II. John 3:18-21 Light and Dark, Life and Death
A. V18, Jesus continues to speak to Nicodemus about the Kingdom of Heaven, and probably shocks him when he says “he who does not believe is condemned already…” Being a Pharisee Nicodemus may have thought he wasn’t in need in salvation, and if there was anyone one earth who might have passed the test of righteousness it probably would have been Nicodemus, but even Nicodemus is told that those who do not believe in Jesus are already condemned. There are no exceptions.
1. Believe means to have confidence in, to trust as true.
2. Condemned means to separate and includes the sense of having been judged.
3. We see in this verse that there is salvation in no other name then the name of Jesus, there is one way and one way only. For those of us who believe in Jesus this is good news, we are not condemned for our sins.
a) “[There is] therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, [fn] who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.” Romans 8:1
B. V19, This is the judgment, light came into the world, Jesus Christ came into the world and gave light to darkness, gave revelation of salvation to a lost a hopeless world, but men loved darkness rather than light.
1. The word for “loved” here is agapeo and is the same Greek word used in John 3:16 for “loved”. With the same vigor that God had agapeoed the world the world agapeoed darkness.
C. V20, What you practice shows what you love. We find out here what keeps men from coming to the light, from coming to know Jesus and be saved from their sins, it is the love of sin that keeps them from coming to the light. They know that if they come to the light their deeds will be shone as evil, and they hate that, so they would rather reject the light and live in darkness.
1. People may give intellectual reasons, or emotional reasons, as to why they do not believe in God. But the truth is, when you get down to it, they do not want God to exist because they know they would have to change their lives. People have said, oh I don’t believe in God because I was burned by the church growing up… that is only a surface excuse that you tell yourself and others, the real truth is you don’t want to change, you like your sin.
D. V21, When you believe in Jesus, the Light, your sins are forgiven and you are no longer condemned, no longer judged. You have no problem coming into the light, because you do not mind light being shined on your life, in fact you would encourage it. Even if there are some dark parts of your life you can’t help but pray, Lord shine your light into that part of my life and change it.
E. Example: I remember being a teenager when I wasn’t walking with God, some of the least durable moments were when my pastor would walk by me on a day I had been talked into showing up to church. Just being around him the light in him would shine out, and I would become very aware of my sin. I would think, somehow he knows all the sins I have been doing, and would feel like shrinking back. When you are walking in the light though, you have no problem being around godly people, in fact you rejoice in it.
III. John 3:22-27 He must increase.
A. V22, After Jesus had spent some time and finished what he had wanted to do in Jerusalem (publicly reveal Himself as Messiah) he withdrew to the wilderness with His disciples and began to baptize. We find out from 4:2 that Jesus Himself wouldn’t baptize with water but had His disciples do it in His name.
B. V23-24, John the Baptist was baptizing in the same area and was continuing in doing what he had come to do, to prepare the way for the Messiah and point his disciples to Jesus.
1. “There was much water there” This gives us good evidence that water baptisms should be immersive since having a lot of water was crucial to both the baptism of John and of Jesus.
2. Even though John had already publicly declare Jesus to be the Messiah and the one in whom he had come to prepare the way for he continued on with his ministry. John wasn’t going to stop calling people to repentance until the Lord called him to. You would think John would have joined up with Jesus and become one of His disciples, but John knew that he had been called to simply be a forerunner, the last prophet of a certain disposition, and was content in that.
C. V25, An argument gets brought up about purification, we see that John’s disciples are extremely loyal to him… perhaps a little too loyal. It seems that they may have been claiming that the baptism of John was the best right of purification, likely disputing with the Jews. Perhaps the Jews then said “Well if your purification is so great then why are the disciples of Jesus baptizing, and yet your master has testified to His greatness, is then the baptism of Jesus better than your baptism?”.
D. V26, John’s disciples miss the point of John’s ministry. Their love for their master overrides their love for truth. They complain about Jesus baptizing and that people are coming to Him instead of to John. The fact that people were coming to Jesus instead of John actually meant that John was being successful, but John’s disciples didn’t see it that way. They saw it as, hey we gave that guy his start and he owes us, now he is stealing away our gig.
E. V27, John, ever so wisely, says he can only receive that which is given to him from heaven. For a time God gave John many disciples, but now people were turning to Jesus, and God was giving John’s disciples to Jesus. He could only accept that which God gave him and be content with. John knew though that this was his calling, to make disciples so that way he could hand those disciples over to Jesus.
IV. 3:28-30, The Bridegroom, the Bride, and the Best-Man.
A. V28, This shouldn’t surprise John’s disciples, he had already told them that he wasn’t the Christ and had only been sent before Him. This was the whole point of John’s message, to get people to follow Jesus not himself.
1. In the next verses John is going to give two explanations as to why it is OK that people are starting to follow Jesus and not him, one is that he is just the friend of the groom and the second is that he is of the earth, whereas Jesus is from heaven.
2. Application: The mark of a good teacher/preacher is to make disciples of Christ and not of ourselves. To get people to follow Jesus not us.
B. V29, John here likens himself as to the best-man in a wedding, Christ as to the Groom and those who were following Christ as the bride. John knew he wasn’t getting married to the bride, his job was only to direct the bride to the groom… to help the groom court the bride. When he sees that the marriage is happening he is overfilled with joy at the wedding of his friend.
1. Last year or so ago I was one of the groom’s men in one of my close friends weddings. Seeing them getting married was one of the happiest moments of my life, because I loved my friends and I couldn’t help but be happy for their love. I knew my place, I wasn’t getting married, that day wasn’t about me… it was about them and it filled me with joy to see them together.
a) John knew that it wasn’t about him, it was all about Christ. John loved God and it made him happy to see that people were coming to know God’s love too. For those of us who teach, and teach out of a love for God, it is a happy day when people stop coming to us with questions because they started going to God for answers.
C. V30, “He must increase, but I must decrease.” It is this attitude which makes John the Baptist the greatest man born of women. “must” Must means that it has to happen.
1. If we want to be used greatly of God this needs to be our attitude, that Christ must continually increase and we must continually decrease. God can’t really use us unless we have this sort of thinking because God will not share His glory with another. He delights in those who practice humility and will give Him the honor that He deserves.
2. The salvation of people’s souls was much more important to John then the outward look of his ministry. This is what it means to make Jesus your God, that He would increase and we would decrease.
3. “Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up.” James 4:10
V. John 3:31-36 Eyewitness Testimony
A. V31, Jesus had come from heaven, Jesus was not of the earth, so naturally those who come from above would rank above all those below. John says, in speaking about himself, since he is of the earth he can only speak of the earth, from the perspective of an earthling. Which is a limited perspective compared to someone who came from heaven.
B. V32, Jesus came from heaven, when He speaks of the way to salvation and about the knowledge and revelation of God it is first person testimony. He is talking about the things He has seen with his own eyes and heard with his own ears. The testimony that Jesus gives is an eyewitness testimony. John can only give a second hand account of those things that God had showed him in a dream or through a still small voice of the Spirit, or through the revelation of the written Law.
1. Sadly, although Jesus spoke of what He knew for sure very few received his testimony. Jesus was in the know, He was in a better position than anyone to talk about God, and yet no one cared to listen. Jesus gave plenty of evidence but almost no one received His evidence as true.
C. V33, To those few who do receive the witness of Jesus, they come to find out that God is true. The Amplified Version helps make a lot more sense of this verse,
1. “Whoever receives His testimony has set his seal of approval to this: God is true. (That man has definitely certified, acknowledged, declared once and for all, and is himself assured that it is divine truth that God cannot lie).” John 3:33 AV
2. Those who receive the testimony of Jesus are publically and legally saying that they approve of this statement: God is true. They are convinced once and for all that Jesus really is from above and His testimony of divine revelation and the way to salvation through faith in His name is true.
D. V34, Jesus was sent from above by God to speak the words of God, rightly so since He is the Word incarnate. Being that Jesus is from above and sent to speak firsthand information about God He did not have a limit to the amount of the Spirit that God poured out on Him. In times past when God would send a prophet He would pour out on them a measure of His Spirit, some prophets had a larger portion of God’s Spirit then others, but now that Jesus has come to bring the full revelation of God the Spirit is not withheld in any way, God fully empowered Jesus like never before.
1. To the disciples of John this would be something John wanted them to know, he was basically saying I have only a measure of God’s Spirit upon me but Jesus has an unlimited measure of the Spirit of God upon Him. All the more reason as to why He must increase and John must decrease.
E. V35, In verse 34 we saw all three persons of the trinity, the Son, God the Father and the Spirit. Verse 35 continues on with this thought, the reason God does not give the Spirit in measure to the Son is because the Son is loved by the Father and all things are given into His hands. More than that the Son and the Spirit are one, so of course God the Father would not give the Spirit by measure… they are already One.
F. V36, This is the clearest verse in the Bible for the gospel, it really should replace John 3:16 as our favorite evangelical verse. We see here that the testimony of John the Baptist is exactly the same as the testimony of Christ as far as how one can be born again and have eternal life, this verse is almost the same as John 3:16 except that has even more information.
1. “He who believes in the Son has everlasting life…” Simply put, if you believe in Jesus Christ, if you put your confidence in Him and in His testimony, you will have eternal life.
2. “…and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life…” This is pretty simple to understand and very clear. There is no way out of this one, the Bible teaches that if you don’t believe in Jesus you will never see life, only death.
3. “…but the wrath of God abides on him.” This means that before you believe in Jesus, the Son of God, the wrath of God is upon you. God’s wrath is upon you because He hates sin and He must judge it, this is why Jesus told Nicodemus that those who don’t believe are judged already. If you continue to not believe in Jesus then the wrath of God will continue to abide on you.
4. Thankfully, Jesus came not to judge us but to save us. The Bible says that the consequence of sin is death, the judgment of sin is separation from God and hence separation from eternal life (being that all life comes from God and so if you are separated from God you are separated from eternal life). When Jesus died on the cross He took the judgment of sin upon Himself, he bore the wrath of God so you don’t have to. All you have to do is believe in Jesus, trust in Him that this was enough to save you, and to look to Him in repentance. There is only one thing that will keep you from doing this, the love of your sin… whatever sin it is that is keeping you from coming to the light. It is not worth it. The pleasure of that sin is but for a moment and it’s consequence eternal, turn from evil today if you haven’t and come to the light and you will be saved.