Two ways to make sure he becomes greater, and you become less:
- Be happy with what makes God happy (22-30)- John’s disciples seem a little jealous that Jesus was gaining more disciples, but John the Baptist responds by saying that his joy is complete if the bridegroom gets what he came for! If Jesus gets what he wants, that should make us happy.
- Glory in the uniqueness of Jesus (31-36)- there are at least three unique things about Jesus in these verses: one, he is from heaven. No other human being can say that. Two, he speaks the very words of God– in a way that no other prophet can. When you hear Jesus speak, all you can say is “God is true.” Three, he is exalted by the Father. The Father’s wrath remains on anyone who rejects the Son.
Verses 31-36 seem to be another insertion of the Apostle’s meditations on what he was writing about. He recalled the great witness of John the Baptist and followed suit by himself writing about the greatness of Jesus.
“…whoever believes in him…”
3 things that are true about every true believer:
- True believers actually trust Jesus (16)- a lot of times believers live out John 3.16 as if it says “for God so loved the world, that he gave his One and Only Son, that whoever believes in their faith in him, shall not perish…” John is not saying ‘profess faith in Christ and you will be saved.’ He is saying ‘you must trust in my best friend, Jesus, in order to be saved.’ It is faith in a real Person.
- True believers live by the truth (20-21)- “hates the light” is contrasted with “whoever does the truth.” Jesus is so readily identified with truth that true followers always live according to it. They always produce good works, but…
- True believers do not trust in their works (21)- they do not trust in them because it is plain that God does the work through them. Also, believers like to come to the light “so that it may be seen plainly” that God does the work through them. They want God to be glorified! They do the truth but continually look away from themselves.
Let us face it, in 21st century America, “believe” is not that great of a word to use for what the Bible really means.
4 things to help you understand John 3.16 better:
- John 3.16 is an explanation of John 3.13-15. The most famous verse in the world starts off with the word “for.” It explains why the Father sent the Son into the world. Verses 13-15 explain the purpose for Jesus coming into the world, namely, to be lifted up on the cross. Verse 16 explains the cause of the Son coming into the world, namely, for God so loved the world.
- John 3.16 is an explanation of how God loved the world. Do not forget the word “so.” For God, IN THIS WAY, loved the world: He gave His One and Only Son! We can tell that God loves the world sooooo much because we know the Father loves the Son sooooo much more, and yet He gave Him into the world to be lifted up on the cross.
- The “world” of John 3.16 is the “world” of John 3.19. The Light has come into the world, and yet mankind loves the darkness! It was not that mankind was loveable or worthy to be redeemed. It was a dark and sinful world that God loved in such a way so as to send His One and Only Son.
- John 3.16 needs to be explained by John 3.17. The next verse also starts with the word “for.” John felt the need to explain to people further that the Son was sent into the world to save the world. The picture of the Son of God from the OT was that he was a fierce and dreadful Judge (Psalm 2); yet John said that the Father loved the world in such a way that he sent His Son and whoever believes in him shall not perish, but have eternal life.
The best way to understand verses 16-21 is that it is John’s own reflections on the conversation between Jesus and Nicodemus. He thought about how everyone needs to be born again, and the only way this new life came about was by the Father sending His Son into the world, and he thought to himself, “For God so loved the world…”