Now there was a Pharisee named Nicodemus, a leader of the Jews. He came to Jesus by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God; for no one can do these signs that you do apart from the presence of God.” Jesus answered him, “Very truly, I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above.” Nicodemus said to him, “How can anyone be born after having grown old? Can one enter a second time into the mother’s womb and be born?” Jesus answered, “Very truly, I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit. What is born of the flesh is flesh, and what is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not be astonished that I said to you, ‘You must be born from above.’ The wind blows where it chooses, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” Nicodemus said to him, “How can these things be?” Jesus answered him, “Are you a teacher of Israel, and yet you do not understand these things? “Very truly, I tell you, we speak of what we know and testify to what we have seen; yet you do not receive our testimony. If I have told you about earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you about heavenly things? No one has ascended into heaven except the one who descended from heaven, the Son of Man. And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life. “Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. (John 3:1-17, NRSV)
This is a great passage of scripture that raises many questions. It also has one of the most quoted Bible verses John 3:16. I don’t think that John 3:16 is complete without 3:17 though.
You see Nicodemus knows that Jesus is a great teacher and so he goes to Jesus at night to hide his seeking. Their discussion goes deep and Nicodemus wonders about birth of water and Spirit and how all fo this happens. But you see Jesus did not condemn Nicodemus for not getting it. He kept telling him things to try and help him. And if we follow Nicodemus through the gospel of John we see him growing as a disciple. He comes first under darkness here in chapter 3, then in chapter 7 Nicodemus speaks in Jesus’ defense at the high council meeting, and then we see him in public removing Jesus’ body from the cross and helping to put Him in the tomb. Slow steady growth.
For God so loved the world that He sent His only Son, that who so ever should believe in Him will not perish but have everlasting life. This is true, God loved us so much that He sent His son to die so that we can have life in Him. But God did not send His son to condemn us, God sent His Son so that the world might be saved through Him. Jesus came to show us how to live as God’s children and to help us embrace our lives as God children, not to tell us once and when we don’t get it to condemn us. No Jesus came to save us all.