First, let me write down some questions I have as I read this chapter…
1) Jesus says to Nicodemus “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again” (v.3). For the Jew, what did the phrase “kingdom of God” mean?
2) Jesus starts relating being born again to the wind in verse 8, saying “The wind blows wherever it pleases”. Is this statement referring to the doctrine of election, or is it simply saying that spiritual birth is an unseen thing…not something that exists in the physical sense, only the spiritual?
3) In v.11 Jesus says “We speak of what we know, and we testify to what we have seen.” Who is the we? Is is Jesus and another person or other people? Or is it Jesus and the Spirit?
4) What exactly does Jesus mean when he says, “Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up” (v.14)?
5) When Jesus says “No one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit”, does baptism symbolize at least the water part?
“Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.”
It struck me as I was reading today, that this passage is inclusive and not exclusive. At first glance, it may read something like “you can’t go to heaven unless you believe in Jesus” (which is true, by the way ;-). However, I think the important word here is the word, “already”. You see, we are all condemned to die…not because of a lack of belief in Jesus, but because of our sin. Our sin condemns us. Not our lack of belief. Rather, belief in Christ is what saves us.
In a postmodern world that may charge Christianity with the crime of exclusivity, this passage says, “No, no! We’re not different! We’re all the same and we’re all going to the same place! (hell). All we’re saying is, that there is hope! His name is Jesus, and you don’t have to be condemned anymore!”