Firstly, Nicodemus. He comes to Jesus by night. He is a leading member of the Sanhedrin. Jesus says to him: “The Son of Man must be lifted up as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert, so that everyone who believes may have eternal life”. This is an obvious reference to Numbers (21:19). John uses it three times to predict the Passion and death of Jesus. The word ‘lifted up’ has two meanings in Greek. One meaning is Crucifixion or impaling, the other is promotion. Jesus clearly uses the word to have the two meanings. For John, the Cross is one issue, the other and bigger one is the promotion of Jesus to glory.
Belief is like a door (v 15). Everyone who believes may have eternal life. A good working translation for believing in this Gospel is “to be in love”. Belief is the sign. When we believe we do whatever we have to and that is eternal life.
Next comes one of the best loved passages in the Scriptures. “God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believed in him may not be lost but may have eternal life.” The gift is great – eternal life through believing in God’s only Son – and the choice is ours.
The concluding verses take up John’s constant meditation on light and dark. Nicodemus came in the dark, “but the man who lives by the truth comes out in the light so that it may be plainly seen that what he does is done in God.”