After Jesus turned the water into wine in Cana, He traveled to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover.
When Jesus saw what was happening in the temple, He was furious. People looking to make a profit from religious rituals were taking advantage of worshipers and making the sacred cheap. Jesus made a whip and scattered the marketers and animals.
Read John 2:15-17.
The religious leaders questioned Jesus’ authority to do this and Jesus answered, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up” (2:19). Jesus was referring to His own body, but everyone thought He was talking about Herod’s temple. Years later, after Jesus rose from the dead, Jesus’ disciples remembered and understood.
In the days to come, people saw Jesus perform miracles and “many believed in his name” (2:23). But this belief wasn’t saving faith; they just acknowledged the miracles. Jesus knew their hearts. Literally, it says, “He did not believe in them” (2:24).
But some people were genuinely interested in Jesus. Like Nicodemus, a Jewish ruler. When he came to Jesus at night, he wanted to talk about how Jesus could establish the kingdom of God and help overthrow Rome.
Read John 3:1-21.
But Jesus interrupted Nicodemus and said: “You can’t even see the kingdom of God unless you’ve been born again” (3:3).
Nicodemus is confused. How can a man be physically born again?
But the Lord was talking about a spiritual birth. God never tries to save our old nature. He hasn’t any program to improve or develop or save it. That’s why we must be given a new nature.
Jesus compares the wind to how we are born of the Spirit. Like the wind, we can’t fully explain it, but when God moves in people’s hearts, we can see it happening.
How can we be born again? It takes Jesus’ death to bear our sin’s penalty, and His resurrection (Him lifted up) to regenerate us. That’s the only way God can receive us.
Why would God do this? Because “God so loved the world.” God’s love motivated His gift of salvation.
Read John 3:16.
To “believe in” Christ means to trust Him as the One who bore the penalty for your sins and who died in your place.
When Jesus came the first time, He came to save, not to judge (3:17). When the world crucified Jesus, the world chose to be judged by God. Next time Jesus comes, He will judge the world.
John the Baptist’s life and ministry sum it up: Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved. Don’t believe on Him, and you will be eternally lost without Christ.