John 3 & 4
21 “He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him.” 22 Judas (not Iscariot) said to Him, “Lord, how is it that You will manifest Yourself to us, and not to the world?” 23 Jesus answered and said to him, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him. 24 “He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine but the Fathers who sent Me.” (John 14:21–24).
How does Jesus know that we love Him? If we keep His words. How do we know that we love Jesus? By keeping His words. Make an area in your journal to write down all the words in John that Jesus actually says. Normally those words are written in red ink. As you find them, apply yourself to doing them.
Keeping His words indicates that you treasure them, you hold them, press them into your heart, and that you do them. You do them because you value them above the words you hear from the world, and you remember them, not forgetting them. The Bible warns us that we can look into a mirror and walk away forgetting what we look like. Likewise, we can memorize His words, repeat them over and over to ourselves, yet walk away forgetting everything we just did. Make it your goal to KEEP His words. The biggest test of whether or not you keep His words is whether or not you DO them. That’s when the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit actually move into your spirit and make themselves comfortable there.
Being born again is not just a ritual you perform, even though most “new births” seem to operate like that. They seem to think the church they attend will get them saved, but it’s not a matter of joining a church or even attending a church. It is knowing the living person of God Almighty, having Him as your best friend who is constantly with you, closer than a brother! If you truly know Him in this intimacy, you will want more of Him, of His life, of His Kingdom. You will want to understand Him, follow Him and have Him manifest Himself to you. Verse 21 promises that! He has manifested Himself to me many times; He will show Himself to anyone who loves Him, and their love is demonstrated by doing His words. I don’t always do His words, but I’m on the road, and I know you are, too, because like me, you want more!
2 This man came to Jesus by night and said to Him, “Rabbi, we know that You are a teacher come from God; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him.” 3 Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” 4 Nicodemus said to Him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother's womb and be born?” 5 Jesus answered, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. 6 “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 “Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ 8 “The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit.” (John 3:2–8).
Some translations use the term “born from above” instead of “born again.” Perhaps that explains it better because it points us to the fact that the Holy Spirit has never stopped hovering over the earth. If we could think of a perpetual white cloud covering the entire earth, we might get a comprehension of the work of the Holy Spirit. There is nothing on earth that He doesn’t attend to. Even in the worst sin pots, He is there drawing every sinner to God Almighty. When that sinner says “Yes,” from above He causes that sinner to be “born again,” and He enters that new saint of God, where He prepares a place for the Father and the Son. As verse 23 of John 14 says (as written here above), when the new believer puts himself in a place of obedience, doing the words of Jesus, that’s when the Father and the Son join the Holy Spirit on the inside of the believer.
When Genesis speaks of the Holy Spirit hovering over the earth, or over the waters, depending on the translation, the Word of God is indicating the invisible stirring and moving the visible. With the “new birth” it is the Holy Spirit, just above, who baptizes, or submerges, the visible into the invisible Body of Christ. What is it that is born again? Our spirits. Ours were dead—dead since the time Adam ate the forbidden fruit and his spirit died. We have suffered with Adam until Jesus came as “the last Adam” and supplied us with a brand new spirit in which the Holy Spirit immediately fills with Himself. The symbol of the Holy Spirit is the wind. He is the breath of God. We can often feel His presence like the wind blowing in the trees, in our ears, in our lives, but like the wind, we cannot direct it. We cannot tell the wind what to do. Nor can we dictate to the Holy Spirit, but we can receive all goodness from Him, all joy, all delight.
4 Then I looked, and behold, a whirlwind was coming out of the north, a great cloud with raging fire engulfing itself; and brightness was all around it and radiating out of its midst like the color of amber, out of the midst of the fire. 5 Also from within it came the likeness of four living creatures. And this was their appearance: they had the likeness of a man. 6 Each one had four faces, and each one had four wings. 7 Their legs were straight, and the soles of their feet were like the soles of calves' feet. They sparkled like the color of burnished bronze. 8 The hands of a man were under their wings on their four sides; and each of the four had faces and wings. 9 Their wings touched one another. The creatures did not turn when they went, but each one went straight forward. 10 As for the likeness of their faces, each had the face of a man; each of the four had the face of a lion on the right side, each of the four had the face of an ox on the left side, and each of the four had the face of an eagle (Ezekiel 1:4–10).
The Gospels present Jesus from four different perspectives, and each Gospel must be viewed as integral with the others, yet distinct in its presentation. Everything God does is unified. There is a law on the earth that everything is in a state of decay, but spiritual things never decay. They never die. Therefore, what Ezekiel has to say in these verses gives a clarity to the Gospels. If you read Revelation 4:4–11, you will find more confirmation of this unification of all that God says and does. The Gospels all lead us to worship!
Matthew writes of Jesus as being the Lion of Judah. His audience is the Jews. Fifty-eight percent of his information is common to the other Gospels, while forty-two percent is distinctly different from the others. Mathew prizes Jesus as King. Mark writes of Jesus as being the Ox. His audience is the Romans. Ninety-three percent of his information is common to the other Gospels, while seven percent is distinctly different from the others. Mark prizes Jesus as the Tireless Servant. Luke writes of Jesus as being the Man. His audience is the Gentiles. Forty-one percent of his information is common to the other Gospels, while fifty-nine percent is distinctly different from the others. Luke prizes Jesus as the Ideal Man.
John, however, writes of Jesus as being the Eagle. His audience is EVERYONE to ever live. Only eight percent of his information is common to the other Gospels, while ninety-two percent is distinctly different from the others. John prizes Jesus as the Son of God. John was unique. In my opinion, John had the best view, from the front! The three synoptic Gospels stress what Jesus did, whereas John stresses who He is.
In 190 A.D., Clement Alexander quoted Eusebius, an historian, as saying, “John composed a spiritual Gospel.” His style of writing was simple Greek, and he wrote his Gospel in Ephesus, where he took Mary, the mother of Jesus, to live after the resurrection. His theme can be said like this, “The eternal Son of God.” Yet, the church fathers for centuries discounted John as being too simple to be tolerated. They wanted time and place information, not spiritual ramifications. John may be the simplest of the Gospels, yet it is also the most profound. It is the beginning book for new believers and at the same time the advanced text for scholars because of the involvement of the Holy Spirit in the words.
John is the only disciple recorded as having a natural death, yet tradition holds that he was boiled in oil without suffering any damage. The word “belief” appears 98 times in his Gospel. I believe he was one of the disciples who fully comprehended the power of “faith.”
If we can glean from his writings something to constantly apply to our lives, it might well be to remember: “Love is not a soft walk through the universe. Only with Jesus do we make it to the other side.”