Jesus and Nicodemus
1 There was a Pharisee called Nicodemus. He was one of the Jewish leaders. 2 He came to speak with Jesus at night. He said to Jesus, ‘Teacher, we know that God has sent you to us. We have seen the miracles that you are doing. Nobody could do these things unless God was with him.’ 3 Jesus replied, ‘I tell you this: Unless a person is born from above, they cannot understand the kingdom of God.’ 4 Nicodemus asked, ‘How can a man be born when he is old? He cannot return into his mother's body. He cannot be born a second time.’ 5 Jesus explained, ‘I tell you this: Unless a person is born by water and by God's Spirit, he cannot come into the kingdom of God. 6 People give birth to what is human. But God's Spirit gives birth to spirit. 7 I said to you, “You must be born from above.” What I said should not surprise you. 8 When someone is born by God's Spirit, it is like the wind that blows. The wind blows wherever it chooses to blow. You can hear it. But you do not know where it came from or where it is going.’
9 Nicodemus asked, ‘How can this happen?’ 10 Jesus replied, ‘You are an important teacher of people in Israel. You ought to understand these things! 11 I tell you this: We speak about things that we know. We tell you about what we have seen. But even then, you people do not believe our message. 12 I have told you about things that happen in this world. And you do not believe me. But now I am telling you about things that happen in heaven. So I do not think that you will ever believe me about those things. 13 The Son of Man came down from heaven. Nobody else has gone up to heaven except him. 14 Long ago Moses lifted up the metal snake in the wilderness to save his people. In the same way, people must lift up the Son of Man on a cross. 15 As a result, everyone who believes him will be able to live for ever with God. 16 God loved the people in the world so much that he gave his one and only Son to save them. As a result, everyone who believes in the Son will not die. Instead, they will live for ever with God.’
17 God did not send his Son into the world because he wanted to punish people. He sent his Son to save the people in the world from punishment. 18 God will not punish anyone who believes in his Son. But if people refuse to believe in the Son, God has already decided that he must punish them. They have not believed in God's one and only Son. 19 God's Son has brought light into the world. But some people did not love the light. They loved the dark instead. That was because they were doing evil things. That is why God has decided to punish those people. 20 Everyone who does evil things hates the light. A person like that will not come to the light because he is afraid. He does not want the bad things that he has done to show clearly. 21 But anyone who does what is true will come to the light. The light will show clearly that he has been doing what is right. Everyone can see that he has been obeying God.
Jesus and John the Baptist
22 After this, Jesus and his disciples went to the country places in Judea. Jesus stayed there with his disciples for some time, and they baptized people there. 23 John was also baptizing people. He was at a place called Aenon, near Salim, because there was a lot of water there. People were coming to him and John was baptizing them. 24 (This happened before the rulers put John in prison.) 25 John's disciples began to argue with a certain Jew about some Jewish rules. Those rules told people how they should wash properly. 26 The disciples then came to John. They said to him, ‘Teacher, remember the man, Jesus, that you spoke to us about. He was with you on the other side of the Jordan River. Now he is baptizing people and everyone is going to him.’
27 John replied, ‘A man can receive only what God gives to him, nothing else. 28 You yourselves will remember that I said, “I am not the Messiah, but God sent me to prepare things for the Messiah.” 29 When a man marries a wife, she belongs to him. The man's special friend listens carefully. He wants to know when the man will arrive. That friend is very happy when he hears the man's voice. I am like that friend, so I am completely happy now. 30 Jesus must become greater, but I must become less important.
3:28John the Baptist said that God sent him before the Lord Jesus Christ. He was like someone who brings a message from a king. He had to tell people that the king was coming to visit them. The prophet Malachi had told Israel's people that someone would come before the Christ. This person would tell them that their Messiah (Christ) would come soon.
31 The one who comes from above is greater than all things. A person who comes from the earth belongs to the earth. A person like that speaks only about things that belong to the earth. But the one who comes from heaven is greater than all things. 32 He tells people about the things that he has seen. He tells about what he has heard. But people do not believe his message. 33 Anyone who does believe his message agrees that God is true. 34 The one that God has sent speaks God's words. God has given his Spirit to fill that person completely. 35 The Father loves the Son. He has given his Son authority over all things. 36 Anyone who believes in the Son has life with God for ever. But anyone who refuses to obey the Son will never have life with God. God will continue to be angry with people like that.’