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Lesson # John 3:13-17
Study Material - John 3:13-17
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13 'And no one has ascended into heaven, but He who descended from heaven, even the Son of Man. 14 'And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up; 15 that whoever believes may in Him have eternal life. 16 'For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life. 17 'For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world should be saved through Him.
In the Old Testament God hears from heaven (2 Chron 7:14), looks from heaven (Ps 80:14), speaks from heaven (Neh 9:13), sends from heaven, Ps 57:3. But here we see that no one has entered into heaven and God now is coming down from heaven, to teach and save us.
Also, it is noteworthy, that since no one as of this time in history, that is, the time of Christ, no one had entered into heaven. The Old Testament believers went to Paradise when they died. Paradise is one of four compartments in the under world. This under world is referred to as Hades or Sheol. These terms do not mean Hell, but refer to the under world.
Only the Son of Man, which is the title which Jesus ascribes to Himself in this conversation with Nicodemus. Adam being the first man, and God the Father being referred to as the Father of man, so now Jesus refers to Himself as the Son of man, or the second Adam, but more than that, He refers to Himself as the only one who has ever entered into heaven and descended from heaven, which means that He has to be God in order to do this. Therefore Jesus is both God in that He came from heaven, and He is man, in that he is the second Adam, or the Son of man. Daniel refers to the Son of Man as the Messiah in Dan. 7:13, also referred to as the Ancient of Days. So now Nicodemus is getting the clarity of the identity of Jesus who is the Son of God and the Messiah.
Jesus continues with the illustration of the last miracle which was performed by Moses from Num. 21:6-9, when God sent fiery serpents to bite and kill the people for their sins. Moses lifts up the serpent, as Christ is lifted up on the Cross, that whoever looks upon the serpent lifted up would be saved and would not die. Those who were bitten and would not look up at the serpent would die. The serpent is sin and spiritual death. Christ is made sin for us and on the Cross he is lifted up to pay the penalty of sin so that we might be saved. We look up to Christ in our faith, in our belief in Him, and this is turn gains us our salvation and freedom from eternal death and condemnation. Eternal life is our reward among many other rewards we receive at the point of our belief in Christ.
So whoever believes in the Son of Man, the Messiah will be saved and will not die. Nicodemus is familiar with all these Old Testament scriptures. But in his mind he keeps on asking, 'How can this all be?'.
And Jesus gives the gospel testimony which we have all heard time and time again, 'For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.' This is the only way of salvation, the only way of escaping the condemnation that waits for all unbelievers at the last judgment, the Great White Throne of God.
Jesus continues in His explanation to Nicodemus, because Nicodemus is expecting the Messiah to come into the world on a white war horse and defeat the Romans with His fiery sword, and this followed by a big celebration. Nicodemus ignored, as so many of his time did, the need for salvation and the judgment of sin. So Jesus continues in verse 17. God did not send His Son into the world this first time to judge the world, but to save it, and here is the problem with Nicodemus. He is expecting the second advent rather than the first advent. He has lost the point of the judgment of sin and the death and resurrection of the Messiah, and the victory over Satan which is required before there can be any eternal life for anyone.
Sin saturates the world, and we all are guilty of sin. Therefore judgment is our reward. But Christ went to collect on that reward in our place. None of us could withstand the judgment for a single sin, let alone all our sins. The question of sin has to be dealt with before the question of eternity can be addressed. Therefore the first advent and the Cross. So why didn't God just bypass all this history and go straight into eternity? Well he did in a manner. He created angels with their volition and freedom from gravity, food, shelter and such, but they failed. The exercise of volition requires the running of the course of history. We as lessor beings than angels, are here to demonstrate that God is able to complete history in a manner which is for our best interest. None of us can jump from nonexistence to maturity without the process of growth and experience that goes along with it.
So Nicodemus is receiving the explanation he did not want, but in terms he can clearly understand, and from knowledge which he clearly has possession of. He is a teacher of scripture, yet he does not understand the lessons he teaches. He rejects the need for salvation, or the work of God on the Cross. Jesus has identified Himself as the Son of Man, a title for the Messiah. Jesus has identified Himself as God, having been the only one who has been in heaven. Jesus has described the only means of salvation, believing in the Son of God, Himself. Jesus has explained the purpose of this first advent of God, which is not to judge, but to save. Nicodemus is expecting the judgment of the Romans, not Christ on the Cross. And last, Jesus states that this deliverance is through Himself. Not the Law, not through good works, but only through Christ comes deliverance from sin and death.
Now is the time to post a prayer.
End Of Lesson
Study to show thyself approved (mature) unto God, a workman that needs not to be ashamed, rightly dividing (studying/discerning), the Word of truth.
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