This is how God loved the world, he gave his only Son,John chapter three is an incredible introduction to the new life we have in Christ. This is a very familiar passage of scripture. I was challenged to read it with fresh eyes, without reading all my opinions into it.
that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.John 3:16
We have become so use to the term "born again" and "be saved". They have become very strong, polarizing terms in our current culture. Take a step back and see what the text actually says; think about what this must have meant to the first century church.
Jesus is challenging the idea of the Kingdom of God being a physical realization for the Jews. Instead, you must be "born from above" to enter the kingdom; you must be born "of water and the Spirit".
In this chapter, we also begin to see the idea of God's mercy and love overcoming the condemnation and judgment sometimes associated with the holiness of God. John has yet to stress the forgiveness and restoration of the new life, but he makes it very clear that God's purpose is to save, not condemn.
This is the first time John describes the new life as being "saved". This is placed in the context of a story of salvation in the old testament - Numbers 21:4-9. The Israelites are dying from snake bites. God instructs Moses to place a golden snake on a high pole in the middle of camp. Everyone who looks at the gold snake will live. What a strong picture of salvation!
I enjoyed the challenge of rereading this chapter with a fresh perspective and considering how the ideas of birth and new life were understood by the original readers.