Friday Study Ministries

Go to Home Page

Book of John
Chapter 3

The Gospel of John for Youth
Commentary by Pastor Ron Beckham

John Chapter 3

(Words in red in the Scriptures are the words of Jesus)

Verse 1. "Now there was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews;"

There were different groups among the Jews, much as "Baptists", "Catholics" and "Methodists," are different groups in Christianity. Nicodemus was a Pharisee (Separated One) who also was on the Sanhedrin (Council) a group of rulers in the Jewish religion.

Verse 2. "this man came to Jesus by night and said to Him, ‘Rabbi, we know that You have come from God as a teacher; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him.’"

Nicodemus came to Jesus in the night time (so he would not be seen), but called Jesus "Rabbi" ("Teacher" – a name of respect). Nicodemus had seen the miracles Jesus had been performing, and decided that God the Father must have been with Jesus, or He could not have done those miracles.

Verse 3. "Jesus answered and said to him, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.’"

Nicodemus was wondering about the miracles that were being done, but Jesus answered with something far more important. Jesus said that all of us must be changed inside ("born again"). We must be changed in our hearts if we are to be a part of God’s kingdom.

Verse 4. "Nicodemus said to Him, ‘How can a man be born when he is old? He cannot enter a second time into his mother's womb and be born, can he?’"

Nicodemus was shocked. He thought he was OK with God, and now Jesus was telling him something more had to be done. He did not understand, because he thought "born again" meant he had to become a human baby again. But that’s not what Jesus meant.

Verse 5. "Jesus answered, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.’"

Jesus explained to Nicodemus that when we are little, we are born into this world as a human baby (to be in "water" is to be in the mother’s womb) . Later on, something else must happen: We must be "born" of the Holy Spirit of God, and when we are, we can enter into God’s kingdom.

Verse 6. "That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit."

Jesus continued telling Nicodemus that to be born into this world is to become a human baby and to be born of the Spirit is different than that. You must believe in Jesus and through Him you can become a child of God (a person who receives the Spirit of God).

Verse 7. "Do not be amazed that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’"

Nicodemus was very surprised, for he thought his group, the Pharisees (Separated Ones) had done everything they needed to be right with God. But Jesus said there’s more: We all must be "born again" (believe in Jesus Christ and receive God’s Spirit).

Verse 8. "The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going; so is everyone who is born of the Spirit."

When we have the Holy Spirit of God, we get something (Someone) new. No more is life just tasting, touching, seeing, smelling and hearing - for the Holy Spirit of God now helps us know what to do. And just like you can’t see the wind, but you can see the leaves move because of it, so people see that something is different and wonderful about us.

Verse 9. "Nicodemus said to Him, ‘How can these things be?’"

Nicodemus, the Pharisee and Leader of the Jews (see verse 1) did not understand what Jesus was telling him. The reason he did not understand was because he had not yet been born again (see verse 3).

Verse 10. "Jesus answered and said to him, ‘Are you the teacher of Israel and do not understand these things?’"

Nicodemus had received much schooling and was an "educated" man. Others looked up to him and asked him for advice. It is astonishing that he had learned so much and knew so little. He needed to be born again and receive the Spirit of God.

Verse 11. "Truly, truly, I say to you, we speak of what we know and testify of what we have seen, and you do not accept our testimony."

Jesus had actually been in heaven and had lived in eternity. He spoke about what he had seen and knew. Nicodemus knew nothing except for this earth and he (like you and me) should listen to Jesus.

Verse 12. "If I told you earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you heavenly things?"

To be "born again" (verse 7) is the need of every person on earth. Jesus had much more to tell Nicodemus, but first the man had to be born again before he could understand.

Verse 13. "No one has ascended into heaven, but He who descended from heaven: the Son of Man."

There is only one Person who has ever lived that has been in heaven and He is Jesus Christ, the Son of God. He was called the "Son of Man", for He was both God and Man at the same time.

Verse 14. "As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up;"

Centuries before, the people of Israel had sinned and the Lord sent "fiery" snakes among them. When they cried for help, the Lord told Moses to make a metal snake and nail it to a pole (Numbers 21:9). All the people had to do was look at it and be saved from the snake bites. Jesus would be crucified (nailed to a pole) and all we have to do is look to Him and we will be saved.

Verse 15. "so that whoever believes will in Him have eternal life."

To believe in Jesus Christ is to be "born again" and receive eternal life. Any "death" is only temporary and we will be with Him – forever!

Verse 16. "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life."

God the Father loves every one of us, and He proved that by sending His only Son, Jesus Christ to give us a relationship with God. When we believe in Jesus, we will be saved. Death has no hold on us – we have LIFE in Him and our life will never end.

Verse 17. "For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him."

Some people live like they are afraid of being "Judged" by God, but that’s not the way He is. The Father sent the Son, not to judge us, but that we might be "saved" (rescued) by Him.

Verse 18. "He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God."

When you believe (trust) in Christ, you will not be punished by God, but the person who does not believe in Him is punished already, because they do not believe.

Verse 19. "This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil."

Have you ever been afraid of the dark? Jesus is our "Light" – He understands everything and when you love Him, He will protect you. People sometimes like to do bad (evil) things, but Jesus will keep you safe from harm.

Verse 20. "For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed."

Those who do bad things like to hide what they do. They don’t want to come to Jesus (the Light) because everybody might find out what they are doing. But don’t worry, for Jesus helps people to do good.

Verse 21. "But he who practices the truth comes to the Light, so that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God."

When we come to Jesus, we can be open about what we think and do. He changes us from bad to good, and we don’t have to be afraid that people will find out what we are doing.

Verse 22. "After these things Jesus and His disciples came into the land of Judea, and there He was spending time with them and baptizing."

Jesus and His disciples (students) went south to Judea (the land near Jerusalem), where He spent time talking to them and baptizing (dipping in water) those who were coming to trust in Jesus Christ. Baptism is like a picture that says "I want to live for Jesus now" and the dipping shows that He has made us clean inside.

Verse 23. "John also was baptizing in Aenon near Salim, because there was much water there; and people were coming and were being baptized."

Aenon and Salim were places near each other at or near the Jordan River. There was a lot of water in those places and John the Baptist was placing people into water, who wanted to become right with God.

Verse 24. "for John had not yet been thrown into prison."

John the Baptist was soon going to be put into prison (go to jail). But not yet, for he still was baptizing people at the Jordan River (see verse 23).

Verse 25. "Therefore there arose a discussion on the part of John's disciples with a Jew about purification."

It’s important for people to find out how to become pure (clean) inside. Different people feel differently about how to become pure. John the Baptist’s disciples (students) were talking with a Jewish man about how to become pure inside.

Verse 26. "And they came to John and said to him, ‘Rabbi, He who was with you beyond the Jordan, to whom you have testified, behold, He is baptizing and all are coming to Him.’"

John the Baptist’s disciples came to him and said "Rabbi" (Teacher), Jesus is nearby. He is the one you talked about. He is baptizing people, too, and many people are following Him.

Verse 27. "John answered and said, ‘A man can receive nothing unless it has been given him from heaven.’"

John the Baptist was a good man. He answered his disciples (students) and told them that every good thing we have is given to us by God. Therefore Jesus (see verse 26) was baptizing many people because that’s what God the Father wanted Him to do.

Verse 28. "You yourselves are my witnesses that I said, ‘I am not the Christ,’ but, ‘I have been sent ahead of Him.'"

John the Baptist reminded them that he had always told people that he was not the Christ ("Anointed" or "Special One"). John had been sent by God to tell people about Jesus Christ.

Verse 29. "He who has the bride is the bridegroom; but the friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly because of the bridegroom's voice. So this joy of mine has been made full."

The "bride" speaks of all those who believe in Jesus, who is the "bridegroom". John the Baptist was the "friend of the bridegroom" (the "best man") who stood up for Jesus, but he was not himself the Christ. He was happy that many were trusting in Jesus Christ.

Verse 30. "He must increase, but I must decrease."

Life is not being better than someone else. It is true of all of us that in order to be happy (full of joy), we must think less of ourselves and more of Jesus Christ. John the Baptist was to become less in life, but he was a happy man.

Verse 31. "He who comes from above is above all, he who is of the earth is from the earth and speaks of the earth. He who comes from heaven is above all."

You and I were born on earth. So was Jesus, but before He was born, He lived in heaven. We talk about life on this earth a lot, for this place is all we know. But Jesus is from heaven and He is above all of us. Yet He came here because he loves you and me.

Verse 32. "What He has seen and heard, of that He testifies; and no one receives His testimony."

Jesus saw God the Father, face to face. He told us about heaven, because he had been there, and told us what He had seen. Not very many were believing in Jesus, John the Baptist was saying, which is surprising for Jesus is the Son of God.

Verse 33. "He who has received His testimony has set his seal to this, that God is true."

When you listen to the words of Jesus, and believe in Him, you don’t need to wonder about life anymore. In Jesus you find out that God is true and that He loves you.

Verse 34. "For He whom God has sent speaks the words of God; for He gives the Spirit without measure."

When God the Father sends a person, we learn the truth from them. Jesus was sent by God the Father and not only did He tell us the truth (verse 33), but He also gives the Holy Spirit of God to those that believe Him.

Verse 35. "The Father loves the Son and has given all things into His hand."

God the Father loves the Son (Jesus Christ) completely. The Father trusts in the Son and EVERYTHING has been given to the Son. When you receive (believe in Jesus), you belong to Him, and He gives everything to you (see verse 36).

Verse 36. "He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him".

When you believe in Jesus, you are given LIFE that does not end. Not just any life, but you are given the joy of the Lord, like you never expected. But for those who do not trust in Jesus, there is trouble ahead.

Ron Beckham, Pastor
Friday Study Ministries

Back to Especially for Children