Life is a key theme in John’s Gospel; it is used thirty-six times. For John, Jesus is more than a historical figure. He is life! When you receive Jesus as your personal Savior, you receive His life! The Christian life is the life of Jesus clothing Himself with your humanity and mine. If your Christian experience can be explained by anything other than the life of Christ, it is not authentic Christianity. It is merely a shabby imitation of the real thing. It is religion without an intimate relationship, and it is powerless to create real change. Life change happens when we are born from above. Jesus encounters three people in today’s reading that experienced real life change: a religious leader, a Samaritan woman and an official’s son.
Are you struggling with issues in your life you are powerless to change? As sincerely as you try, you simply can’t make yourself do what you know you should. Nicodemus was a religious leader who came to Jesus one night longing for understanding. He knew the Word of God, but He didn’t know the God of the Word. His knowledge of God created in him a longing to change, but he was powerless to do it. He had religion. What he needed was life! Jesus told him how he could be born again. He could have a fresh start, a new beginning! Do you ever long to begin again? He gave this religious ruler what has become the most beloved verse in the Bible, John 3:16:
“For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son,
that whoever believes in Him may have eternal life.” (NIV)
Nicodemus personalized that verse and put his name in the place where it says “the world” and “whoever.” He put his faith in Jesus as His Savior and received new life in Christ! It transformed his life! Later in John’s narrative we will see him again in John 7 and 19. On both occasions we see a changed man! To experience that kind of life change, all you need to do is personalize that same promise in your heart. Put your name in the places I’ve underlined. Know that God loves you and gave His one and only Son, so that if you would believe in Him you may have eternal life! Receive His life today, and you’ll never be the same!
Bible Reading: John 3:1-36 (NIV)
1 Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a member of the Jewish ruling council.
2 He came to Jesus at night and said, “Rabbi, we know you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the miraculous signs you are doing if God were not with him.”
3 In reply Jesus declared, “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.”
4 “How can a man be born when he is old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely he cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb to be born!”
5 Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit.
6 Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit.
7 You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’
8 The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”
9 “How can this be?” Nicodemus asked.
10 “You are Israel’s teacher,” said Jesus, “and do you not understand these things?
11 I tell you the truth, we speak of what we know, and we testify to what we have seen, but still you people do not accept our testimony.
12 I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things?
13 No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven–the Son of Man.
14 Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up,
15 that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.
16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.
18 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.
19 This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil.
20 Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed.
21 But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God.”
22 After this, Jesus and his disciples went out into the Judean countryside, where he spent some time with them, and baptized.
23 Now John also was baptizing at Aenon near Salim, because there was plenty of water, and people were constantly coming to be baptized.
24 (This was before John was put in prison.)
25 An argument developed between some of John’s disciples and a certain Jew over the matter of ceremonial washing.
26 They came to John and said to him, “Rabbi, that man who was with you on the other side of the Jordan–the one you testified about–well, he is baptizing, and everyone is going to him.”
27 To this John replied, “A man can receive only what is given him from heaven.
28 You yourselves can testify that I said, ‘I am not the Christ but am sent ahead of him.’
29 The bride belongs to the bridegroom. The friend who attends the bridegroom waits and listens for him, and is full of joy when he hears the bridegroom’s voice. That joy is mine, and it is now complete.
30 He must become greater; I must become less.
31 “The one who comes from above is above all; the one who is from the earth belongs to the earth, and speaks as one from the earth. The one who comes from heaven is above all.
32 He testifies to what he has seen and heard, but no one accepts his testimony.
33 The man who has accepted it has certified that God is truthful.
34 For the one whom God has sent speaks the words of God, for God gives the Spirit without limit.
35 The Father loves the Son and has placed everything in his hands.
36 Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on him.”
Bible Reading: John 4:1-54 (NIV)
1 The Pharisees heard that Jesus was gaining and baptizing more disciples than John,
2 although in fact it was not Jesus who baptized, but his disciples.
3 When the Lord learned of this, he left Judea and went back once more to Galilee.
4 Now he had to go through Samaria.
5 So he came to a town in Samaria called Sychar, near the plot of ground Jacob had given to his son Joseph.
6 Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well. It was about the sixth hour.
7 When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, “Will you give me a drink?”
8 (His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.)
9 The Samaritan woman said to him, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.)
10 Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.”
11 “Sir,” the woman said, “you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water?
12 Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his flocks and herds?”
13 Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again,
14 but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
15 The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.”
16 He told her, “Go, call your husband and come back.”
17 “I have no husband,” she replied. Jesus said to her, “You are right when you say you have no husband.
18 The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true.”
19 “Sir,” the woman said, “I can see that you are a prophet.
20 Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem.”
21 Jesus declared, “Believe me, woman, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem.
22 You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews.
23 Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks.
24 God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth.”
25 The woman said, “I know that Messiah” (called Christ) “is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.”
26 Then Jesus declared, “I who speak to you am he.”
27 Just then his disciples returned and were surprised to find him talking with a woman. But no one asked, “What do you want?” or “Why are you talking with her?”
28 Then, leaving her water jar, the woman went back to the town and said to the people,
29 “Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Christ?”
30 They came out of the town and made their way toward him.
31 Meanwhile his disciples urged him, “Rabbi, eat something.”
32 But he said to them, “I have food to eat that you know nothing about.”
33 Then his disciples said to each other, “Could someone have brought him food?”
34 “My food,” said Jesus, “is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work.
35 Do you not say, ‘Four months more and then the harvest’? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest.
36 Even now the reaper draws his wages, even now he harvests the crop for eternal life, so that the sower and the reaper may be glad together.
37 Thus the saying ‘One sows and another reaps’ is true.
38 I sent you to reap what you have not worked for. Others have done the hard work, and you have reaped the benefits of their labor.”
39 Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me everything I ever did.”
40 So when the Samaritans came to him, they urged him to stay with them, and he stayed two days.
41 And because of his words many more became believers.
42 They said to the woman, “We no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man really is the Savior of the world.”
43 After the two days he left for Galilee.
44 (Now Jesus himself had pointed out that a prophet has no honor in his own country.)
45 When he arrived in Galilee, the Galileans welcomed him. They had seen all that he had done in Jerusalem at the Passover Feast, for they also had been there.
46 Once more he visited Cana in Galilee, where he had turned the water into wine. And there was a certain royal official whose son lay sick at Capernaum.
47 When this man heard that Jesus had arrived in Galilee from Judea, he went to him and begged him to come and heal his son, who was close to death.
48 “Unless you people see miraculous signs and wonders,” Jesus told him, “you will never believe.”
49 The royal official said, “Sir, come down before my child dies.”
50 Jesus replied, “You may go. Your son will live.” The man took Jesus at his word and departed.
51 While he was still on the way, his servants met him with the news that his boy was living.
52 When he inquired as to the time when his son got better, they said to him, “The fever left him yesterday at the seventh hour.”
53 Then the father realized that this was the exact time at which Jesus had said to him, “Your son will live.” So he and all his household believed.
54 This was the second miraculous sign that Jesus performed, having come from Judea to Galilee.