The Son of Man Be Lifted Up 

John 3:9-14 Nicodemus answered and said unto him, How can these things be? Jesus answered and said unto him, Art thou a master of Israel, and know 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 

The question Nicodemus asked Christ should have been clear to him if he had known such Scripture as Jeremiah 31:33; 32:39; Ezekiel 11:19; 18:31; 36:25-27; Psalm 51:10; Isaiah 1:18-20; 55:6 which says “I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people.”

‘Art thou a master of Israel, and know not these things?’ Jesus expected him to know the Scriptures enough to be saved, but he was like most people today, even many ministers who do not know what the new birth is.

‘You receive not our witness’ This is the only hint that Nicodemus at this time went away in doubt about spiritual things, but later it is clear he accepted them (John 19:39).

The earthly things in this passage are in John 3:6 and 8 and the heavenly in John 3:3, 5, 6 and 8.

The Greek word for ‘ascended up’ is anabaino which means to go up of own power, not taken up as was Enoch (Gen. 5:24; Heb. 11:5), Elijah (2Kin. 2:11), Paul (2Cor. 12:1-3), and John (Rev. 4:1). This refers to the ascension of Christ (John 3:13; 6:62; Acts 1:11; Lk. 24:51; Eph. 4:8-10). Christ ascended and came back before His final ascension to heaven to stay (John 20:17).

The verse ‘is in heaven’ proves that Jesus had already ascended when John wrote this book; that the conversation with Nicodemus ended with John 3:12; and that Jesus was now in heaven.

The fourth New Testament prophecy in John that is fulfilled ‘And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up (Num. 21:9; John 8:28; 12:32, 34; 1Pet. 2:24). It behoved Christ to be crucified in order to fulfil prophecy and to redeem man (Lk. 24:26, 46; Acts 3:18; 17:3).

Born of Water and of the Spirit

John 3:5-8 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, You must be born again. The wind blow where it listed, and thou hear the sound thereof, but cannot tell whence it come, and whither it go: so is every one that is born of the Spirit. 

‘Born of water and of the Spirit’ does not refer to the natural birth, for Nicodemus already had this birth and he was told he had to be born again of both water and Spirit. Not water baptism; all Old Testament saints were saved and born again without water baptism (Heb. 11:1-40; Rom. 3:23-25).

Water is used in a figurative sense of salvation (John 4:14; Isa. 12:3), of the Spirit baptism (John 7:37-39), and of cleansing by the Word of God (John 15:3; Eph. 5:26). Since men are cleansed and born again by the Word (Jas. 1:18; 1Pet. 1:23), it is clear that being born of water means being born again by the Word of God.

‘That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.’ This is a fundamental law in both natural and spiritual realms; that is, we live after the flesh or after the Spirit (Rom. 8:1-13; Gal. 5:16-26).

‘So is every one that is born of the Spirit’ as the natural man hears the wind, so the man who is born again hears the voice of the Spirit.

Be Born Again

John 3:1-4 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 do, except God be with him. 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 said 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? 

There was a man – Nicodemus, ruler of the Jews; He was a Jewish Rabbi, member of the Sanhedrin, and one of the three richest men in Jerusalem. He came to Jesus (John 3:1); He testified for Him (John 7:50-51); and He did service for Him (John 19:39).

Nicodemus didn’t come to Jesus by night because of personal shame like the disciples in John 20:19. It was more from fear than shame (John 7:50; 19:38-39). Through centuries Christians who were not ashamed of Christ did do things for fear of persecutors and this was wisdom in most cases.

‘We know that thou art a teacher come from God’ – evidently, the rulers had come to this conclusion, but the majority were too rebellious, to be honest, and sincere.

‘God be with him’ – the secret of power (Acts 10:38) for those who belong to God.

‘Except a man be born again,’ the Greek word for born is gennethe, and again is anothen, which means to be begotten from above. It literally means there must be a transformation from God and a renewal in righteousness and true holiness to be saved (2Cor. 5:17-21; Eph. 4:22-24; Col. 1:13-14, 20; 2:12-17; 3:1-16).

‘He cannot see the kingdom of God’ the Greek word for ‘to see’ is eidon, which is not so much the mere act of looking, but the actual perception of the kingdom and its realities.

‘Be born’ Nicodemus misunderstood Jesus and thought only in human terms. Millions today make the same mistake in comparing the new birth with the old birth. This is the very thing Jesus did not want men to do (John 3:12). The truth is: one is a begetting and a coming into existence; the other is an adoption (Rom. 8:14-16; Gal. 4:5; Eph. 1:5).

What Is in Man

John 2:23-25 Now when he was in Jerusalem at the passover, in the feast day, many believed in his name, when they saw the miracles which he did. But Jesus did not commit himself unto them, because he knew all men, And needed not that any should testify of man: for he knew what was in man. 

The purpose of miracles has always been that we must believe in His name – the name above all names – Jesus (Php. 2:9). Jesus prayed in John 11:42 to the Father: “I knew that thou hear me always: but because of the people which stand by I said it, that they may believe that thou hast sent me.”

Jesus didn’t trust men, for He knew they were not genuine in faith and character. Here is an example of the gifts of knowledge and discerning of spirits (1Cor. 12:4-11). In Jeremiah 17:9 we read that the heart (of all men) is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? God answers in verse 10 that He searches the heart, He tries the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings.

The Temple

John 2:18-22  Then answered the Jews and said unto him, What sign shew thou unto us, seeing that thou do these things? Jesus answered and said unto them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up. Then said the Jews, Forty and six years was this temple in building, and wilt thou rear it up in three days? But he spoke of the temple of his body. When therefore he was risen from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this unto them; and they believed the scripture, and the word which Jesus had said. 

The Jews were as always acting as an evil and adulterous generation that seek after a sign (see Matt. 12:39; 16:4) and Jesus gave them the same answer He would do later: that of His death and resurrection (the sign of the prophet Jonas). The one sign that will hopefully be the answer to all their doubts and unbelief so that they will accept Him as their Saviour.

Here He gave the same answer in the form of the destruction of that temple (Herod’s) that He will raise up in three days. This is the third New Testament prophecy in John where He no doubt pointed to His body – this temple.

With Christ’s death, the New Testament period started (Matt. 26:28; 1Cor. 11:25; Heb. 9:15) and temple service was abolished. God now (during the New Testament period) works through individuals and He clearly states in 1Corinthians 6:19 that our bodies are the temple of the Holy Ghost and He warns us through the Apostle John in Revelation 2:9; 3:9 that there will be those that blaspheme because they say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of satan. Service to God now comes through the body of Christ (1Cor. 12:27; Ep. 4:12), thus each individual that is consecrated to Him for His glory and honour (1Pet. 2:21-22) and not through a temple or synagogue (Acts 7:48; 17:24).

The rebuilding of the temple was commenced by Herod the Great, 20 B.C. Herod tore down Zerubbabel’s temple to make it larger and better.

When Jesus has risen from the dead (Matt. 27:51-53; 28:6; 1Cor. 15:12-23), His disciples remembered His words and they believed the Scripture – that was given to Christ of the Father (John 14:10).

Cleansing the Temple

John 2:13-17  And the Jews’ Passover was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem, And found in the temple those that sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the changers of money sitting: And when he had made a scourge of small cords, he drove them all out of the temple, and the sheep, and the oxen; and poured out the changers’ money, and overthrew the tables; And said unto them that sold doves, Take these things hence; make not my Father’s house a house of merchandise. And his disciples remembered that it was written, The zeal of thine house hath eaten me up. 

It started out to be ‘the Lord’s Passover’ (Exo. 12:11, 12:27; Lev. 23:5; Num. 28:16), but now it had degenerated to be “the Jews’ Passover” (John 2:13; 6:4; 11:55). The feasts of the Lord (Lev. 23:2) had now become the feasts of the Jews (John 5:1; 6:4; 7:2; 11:56; 19:42). Even the commandments were nullified by the traditions of men (Matt. 15:1-9; 16:6-12).

According to historians, 256,500 animals were sacrificed each Passover, so the market must have been huge. The priests sold licenses to the vendors, so this profanation must have been a large source of revenue.

Jesus made a scourge of small cords; He plaited a whip of rush-ropes and drove the animals and the sellers out of the temple. These dealers were very unpopular because of their extortions; they were also conscious that they were profaning the temple and violating the law. They were a stumbling stone (Matt. 16:23; 18:7) for those who wanted to reconcile with God.

My Father’s is a term used by Jesus 60 times of God (John 5:17, 43). The zeal of thine house hath eaten me up is the second Old Testament prophecy fulfilled in John (Psa. 69:9).

Miracles

John 2:6-12  And there were set there six waterpots of stone, after the manner of the purifying of the Jews, containing two or three firkins apiece. Jesus saith unto them, Fill the waterpots with water. And they filled them up to the brim. And he saith unto them, Draw out now, and bear unto the governor of the feast. And they bare it. When the ruler of the feast had tasted the water that was made wine, and knew not whence it was: (but the servants which drew the water knew;) the governor of the feast called the bridegroom, And saith unto him, Every man at the beginning doth set forth good wine; and when men have well drunk, then that which is worse: but thou hast kept the good wine until now. This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee, and manifested forth his glory; and his disciples believed on him. After this he went down to Capernaum, he, and his mother, and his brethren, and his disciples: and they continued there not many days. 

The six waterpots of stone were proportioned to the number of wedding guests and each pot contained 122 litres an in total for the 6 pots there were 736 litres.  The ruler of the feast would have been either a chief guest, a friend of the bridegroom or a chief domestic who attended to the supply of the others.

“Every man at the beginning doth set forth good wine” This is man’s way. God’s way is to give the best first, and always, and when they have “drunk well” which means to drink freely, not when they are all drunk, as some suppose.

And with this wedding, the miracles of Jesus Christ on earth began, not as some apocryphal books state falsely that He did some childhood miracles.

The Greek word for miracles is semeion, a sign or token by which something is known; a token of confirmation of a divine work or call. Generally used of miracles and wonders done by people to confirm their call and mission from God (Matt. 12:38; 16:1-4; John 2:11, 18, 23; 3:2; 7:31; 9:16; 10:41; 11:47; Acts 2:22, 43; 8:6). It is also used of the power by which false teachers seek to confirm their fallacies to be of God (Matt. 24:24; Mark 13:22; 2Th. 2:8-12; Rev. 13:13-18; 16:14; 19:20). The last scriptures above refer to the satanic powers in these last days to cause men to accept false teaching and be lost. God does not want satan and his agents to manifest more power than His children! No! We have been promised power over all satanic forces (Matt. 17:20; 18:18; 21:22; Mark 9:23; 11:22-24; 16:15-20; Lk. 10:19; John 14:12; Acts 1:8).

The manifestation of His glory is the purpose of all miracles of God. Does God get more glory out of the weakness, helplessness, defeat, sin, sickness, and failure of His children than their power, victories, holiness, health, and success? Which then is the will of God?

Water in Wine

John 2:1-5  And the third day there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee; and the mother of Jesus was there: And both Jesus was called, and his disciples, to the marriage. And when they wanted wine, the mother of Jesus saith unto him, They have no wine. Jesus saith unto her, Woman, what have I to do with thee? mine hour is not yet come. His mother saith unto the servants, Whatsoever he saith unto you, do it. 

On the third day after Jesus left Jordan to start His ministry, He attended a marriage feast that sometimes lasted a week. Cana of Galilee was located on a low hill on the side of a rich upland plain, about eleven kilometres north of Nazareth. Called “Cana of Galilee” to distinguish it from Cana of Asher. It is not known how many disciples Jesus had during this first week of His ministry.

When they – the wedding party – ran out of wine (new/good wine = sweet juice) Mary offered Jesus’ service to help create grape juice. ‘Wine’ is used of both fermented and unfermented drink in Scripture. It speaks of the juice of grapes as ‘wine’ while it is still on the cluster (Isa. 65:8) and calls it ‘new wine’ when it is just pressed out of the grapes. It is blasphemous to say that Jesus would have made a wine containing alcohol, He was without sin (1Pet. 2:21-22; Heb. 4:15) and He would not have transgressed Habakkuk 2:15 that says “Woe unto him that giveth his neighbour drink.”

Jesus answered His mother: “Woman…” not a name of disrespect, but one of respect, like our Madam (Matt. 15:28; John 4:21; 19:26; 20:15), “what have I to do with thee?” What have I to do with you in this matter? My time for working a miracle is not fully come. It is sad to see that the first miracle that was chosen for Christ – not chosen by Him – as one that so many people use today to justify the use of alcohol. The Word of God is very clear on the subject of being sober, which is a command to obey, not a request (1Th. 5:6,8; Tit. 2:2,4,6; 1Pet. 1:13, 5:8) and clear on not to drink (Pro. 23:21; 1Tim. 3:3; Tit. 1:7).

The Son of God and of Man

John 1:49-51  Nathanael answered and saith unto him, Rabbi, thou art the Son of God; thou art the King of Israel. Jesus answered and said unto him, Because I said unto thee, I saw thee under the fig tree, believe thou? thou shalt see greater things than these. And he saith unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Hereafter you shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man. 

The second New Testament prophecy fulfilled in John – thou shall see greater things than these – Nathaniel did see many greater works when he saw all the works of Christ for over three years. John 1:51 is to be fulfilled in the eternal kingdom of Jesus on earth when angels will ascend and descend in a more literal way than now (Matt. 13:41-43; 24:31).

Verily, verily means Surely, surely or Amen, amen. So used for emphasis, and only by Him who is the truth (John 14:6). Always used singly elsewhere: in the Old Testament only 16 times; 30 times in Matthew; 15 times in Mark; and 8 times in Luke and only by Christ.

The Son of man is used 88 times of Christ in the New Testament and once in Daniel 7:13 where it was predicted that He would come as the Son of man. It always has the definite article when used of Christ, but not when used of ordinary men. He, Jesus, is God’s Man to redeem mankind. He is God’s answer to satan to guarantee his defeat and restore man’s original dominion.

Calling of Philip and Nathanael

John 1:43-48  The day following Jesus would go forth into Galilee, and find Philip, and saith unto him, Follow me. Now Philip was of Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. Philip find Nathanael, and saith unto him, We have found him, of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets, did write, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph. And Nathanael said unto him, Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth? Philip saith unto him, Come and see. Jesus saw Nathanael coming to him, and saith of him, Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile! Nathanael saith unto him, Whence know thou me? Jesus answered and said unto him, Before that Philip called thee, when thou was under the fig tree, I saw thee. 

Philip was one of the twelve apostles (Matt. 10:3; Mar. 3:18; Lk. 6:14; Acts 1:13), a brother of Nathanael, who brings him also to Jesus. Nathanael (means gift of God) is Bartholomew, which is a patronymic of Nathaniel, also one of the twelve.

The question he asked “can there any good thing come out of Nazareth?” was because they were expecting the Messiah from Bethlehem, and not Nazareth. Never a better person came from any place on earth than Jesus Christ!

Jesus knew Nathanael’s heart through the Holy Spirit’s gift of knowledge (John 3:34; 1Cor. 12:4-11) and said that he was an Israelite in whom is no guile – he was without deceit.

Christ’s statement of seeing him by the Spirit before He could see him with His eyes convinced Nathaniel of Christ’s Sonship.