Jesus’ Life of Love
Jesus Share the Secret of Life with a Pharisee
Billy Graham once said, “God proved His love on the cross. When Christ hung, and bled, and died, it was God saying to the world, ‘I love you.’”
With these simple words, one of the greatest evangelists in the modern era summed up the heart of the Gospel. How clear. How pure. Jesus came to share God’s love with the world.
The way of life Jesus lived and taught is fundamentally different from all other world religions. Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists … all believe that humans are expected to follow certain laws or traditions in order to earn favor with their deity(ies). But Jesus does not demand or even suggest that we, through self-effort, obey a set of laws, even if they be of God’s design (as were the Ten Commandments). He desires that we come into a loving relationship with Himself—that we are born-again of the Spirit. Only then, by change on the inside, will our lives come into conformity to His design.
God created humans to have a spirit, a soul and a body. Before the fall, Adam and Eve’s spirits were in perfect connection with God who is Spirit. Through Spirit-to-spirit connection, the first couple received from God all that was needed for life.
But in the fall, Adam broke spirit connection with God. By eating from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, Adam chose his own will over God’s. He chose to be led by his own soul. After the fall, the soul—the place of our mind, will and emotions—was in charge. But God didn’t create the soul to lead us with its knowledge of good and evil—by following good rules. God created the soul to be led by the Spirit. He created us to live in complete Spirit-to-spirit unity with Himself.
In order for God to restore humans to the life they were created to live, we first had to be “born of the Spirit.” Once God brought life to the spirit, living by faith—living through a relationship with God—could begin.
In the Scriptures for this lesson, Jesus doesn’t just show us God’s love. We are actually given an invitation to join Him in a loving relationship. God’s love and way of life is for everyone. And so Jesus explained to Nicodemus—He explained to a Pharisee—about being “born again.”
Read John 3:1–17:
1Now there was a Pharisee, a man named Nicodemus who was a member of the Jewish ruling council. 2He came to Jesus at night and said, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the signs you are doing if God were not with him.”
3Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.”
4“How can someone be born when they are old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely they cannot enter a second time into their mother’s womb to be born!”
5Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. 6Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. 7You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’ 8The 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? 11Very truly I tell you, we speak of what we know, and we testify to what we have seen, but still you people do not accept our testimony. 12I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things? 1 No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven—the Son of Man. 14Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, 1 that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.
16For 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. 17For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.
1. Why do you think Nicodemus came to see Jesus? Why do you think he came at night?
2. Nicodemus was a Pharisee. As teachers and followers of the law, the Pharisees were in direct opposition to Jesus’ way of love. Yet, Jesus took the time to thoroughly answer Nicodemus’s questions. What does this tell you about Jesus?
3. In verses 3 and 7, Jesus uses the words, “born again.” In verses 8, He uses the words, “born of the Spirit.” What is He trying to convey to Nicodemus by these words?
4. How would you explain being “born again” or being “born of the Spirit” to someone who believes that obeying a set of laws will earn them eternal life?
5. Physical birth is given to us. We don’t have anything to do with it. In this respect, how is spiritual birth similar to physical birth? How is it different?
6. If you are born again, think about your experience at that time. What impact has that decision had on you?
7. Reread verse 8. The Spirit does surprising things and so do the people who are born of the Spirit. What is something surprising the Spirit has done in your life or that you have seen Him do in the life of another?
8. John 3:16 is one of the most quoted verses in the Bible. Reflect on the words. What thoughts or images come to mind?
9. What does Jesus promise us if we believe (or have faith) in Him?
10. What does this promise mean to you personally?
11. John 3:16 begins, “For God so loved the world …” In what ways is God’s love key to understanding this passage? In what ways is God’s love at the center of what He has done for us?
12. Give an example of how you have personally experienced God’s love.
Nicodemus was a Pharisee, a teacher of the law. Yet he came to Jesus because he recognized that God was with Him.
Think back to when you were first drawn to Jesus. Relive that time in your life. Recall your fears and hesitations. Recall your joy. Recall His faithfulness.
As you remember this time in your life, let your heart sing to God in praise.