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40. John 3: “Whosoever”

Salem County Correctional Facility in Woodstown, NJ – Men’s Evening Chapel Service on 1/26/2014

(edited May 2020)


This chapter contains the greatest presentation of CHRIST, God’s Gift to Mankind in verse 16:

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”


But the Great Gift comes to those who may not be so great - like you and me, right? Tonight, in this famous Bible chapter, let’s look at two “whosoevers” who came to Jesus.


1. Nicodemus

Verses 1-2: There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews: The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him.”


Not to be mean, but Nicodemus was a coward. Because of his religious position, he had a lot to lose by associating with Jesus. So he decided to visit the Lord only after dark.


But still, Jesus had answers for him. . .

Verses 1-2:  Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother's womb, and be born?”


. . .and more answers, despite the doubts that Nicodemus had.

Verses 3-8:  Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.  That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.  Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again. The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.”


This man was a real doubter!

Verse 9: “Nicodemus answered and said unto him, How can these things be?”


Well, Christ isn’t done reaching out to him. Listen to this!

Verses 10-21:  Jesus answered and said unto him, Art thou a master of Israel, and knowest not these things?  Verily, verily, I say unto thee, We speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen; and ye receive not our witness.  If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things? And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven. And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.”


The Scriptures reveal that all of Christ’s efforts had a great effect on Nicodemus (see John 19:38-42). Is Jesus having an effect on you and on me, as He should?


2. John the Baptist

Verses 22-23: After these things came Jesus and his disciples into the land of Judaea; and there he tarried with them, and baptized. And John also was baptizing in Aenon near to Salim, because there was much water there: and they came, and were baptized.”


Next, we meet a man named John. Not to be confused with the Apostle John who wrote this Gospel of John. No, the man referred to here is John the Baptist, cousin to Jesus. He used to dunk people in a river or pool, to ceremonially “bathe” them and he would tell everybody he met to repent and get ready for the coming Messiah. (In a way, that doesn’t sound like such a great ministry, does it? Especially for the cousin of Christ Who was a true Miracle-Worker!)


John also became known for not fitting in.  The way he dressed and carried out his ministry was causing him problems with the authorities of his day:

Verse 24: “For John was not yet cast into prison.”


Even among his followers and supporters, questions and doubts arose:

Verses 25-26: Then there arose a question between some of John's disciples and the Jews about purifying.  And they came unto John, and said unto him, Rabbi, he that was with thee beyond Jordan, to whom thou barest witness, behold, the same baptizeth, and all men come to him.”


Maybe John was kind of shy, for a leader. He was definitely a humble man. Look how he answers them:

Verses 27-30: John answered and said, A man can receive nothing, except it be given him from heaven. Ye yourselves bear me witness, that I said, I am not the Christ, but that I am sent before him. He that hath the bride is the bridegroom: but the friend of the bridegroom, which standeth and heareth him, rejoiceth greatly because of the bridegroom's voice: this my joy therefore is fulfilled. He must increase, but I must decrease.”


When he could have been grasping for some of the fame associated with his Supernatural Cousin, John deliberately placed himself in a position of servanthood. A position far beneath that of Jesus. Listen as John continues:

Verses 31-36: He that cometh from above is above all: he that is of the earth is earthly, and speaketh of the earth: he that cometh from heaven is above all. And what he hath seen and heard, that he testifieth; and no man receiveth his testimony. He that hath received his testimony hath set to his seal that God is true.  For he whom God hath sent speaketh the words of God: for God giveth not the Spirit by measure unto him. The Father loveth the Son, and hath given all things into his hand. He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.”


And yes, King Herod did eventually have John arrested. Then one night the king got drunk and executed John for sport. That is not much of an ending for any ministry.


My parents named me after John the Baptist. I have spent hours over the years thinking about him and his life and ministry. He was far from perfect, even to the pointing of doubting the Messiah. And yet, considering everything, I think I am falling short of living up to my namesake. Look at this passage from Matthew 11:2-15. Notice, toward the end, how tenderly Jesus responds to the thought of His cousin:

 “Now when John had heard in the prison the works of Christ, he sent two of his disciples,  And said unto him, Art thou he that should come, or do we look for another? Jesus answered and said unto them, Go and shew John again those things which ye do hear and see: The blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them. And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me. And as they departed, Jesus began to say unto the multitudes concerning John, What went ye out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken with the wind? But what went ye out for to see? A man clothed in soft raiment? behold, they that wear soft clothing are in kings' houses. But what went ye out for to see? A prophet? yea, I say unto you, and more than a prophet.  For this is he, of whom it is written, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee.  Verily I say unto you, Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist: notwithstanding he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force. For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John. And if ye will receive it, this is Elias, which was for to come. He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.”


Regardless of their talents, character, or resume, every “whosever” who comes to Christ in true faith will be received and loved by Him. But even the best of our faith is weak by Heavenly standards. And so are we, beloved. Also, our current world is incapable of fully appreciating our attempts at service for God. And sometimes even in the Church, we are unsympathetic about each other’s weaknesses.


But, our existence in this world is not the end of our story. On His time schedule and not ours, the Lord will exalt the faith of every true believer, in this world and in the World to come. We need to trust Him to work this out in our lives. And we need to encourage others to trust in Christ. It all will take patience, faith, and service and that is not easy. It sounds like a challenge for best of us, the strongest among us, those at the very top. But that’s not what the Bible says. So we can close right where we began:

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”