After dark one evening, a Jewish religious leader named Nicodemus, a Pharisee,
came to speak with Jesus. "Teacher," he said, "we all know that God has sent you to teach us. Your miraculous signs are proof enough that God is with you."
Jesus replied, "I assure you, unless you are born again, a you can never see the Kingdom of God."4
"What do you mean?" exclaimed Nicodemus. "How can an old man go back into his mother's womb and be born again?"
Jesus replied, "The truth is, no one can enter the Kingdom of God without being born of water and the Spirit. b6Humans can reproduce only human life, but the Holy Spirit gives new life from heaven. 7So don't be surprised at my statement that you c must be born again. 8Just as you can hear the wind but can't tell where it comes from or where it is going, so you can't explain how people are born of the Spirit."9
"What do you mean?" Nicodemus asked.
Jesus replied, "You are a respected Jewish teacher, and yet you don't understand these things? 11I assure you, I am telling you what we know and have seen, and yet you won't believe us. 12But if you don't even believe me when I tell you about things that happen here on earth, how can you possibly believe if I tell you what is going on in heaven? 13For only I, the Son of Man, d have come to earth and will return to heaven again. 14And as Moses lifted up the bronze snake on a pole in the wilderness, so I, the Son of Man, must be lifted up on a pole, e15so that everyone who believes in me will have eternal life.16"For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. 17God did not send his Son into the world to condemn it, but to save it.18"There is no judgment awaiting those who trust him. But those who do not trust him have already been judged for not believing in the only Son of God. 19Their judgment is based on this fact: The light from heaven came into the world, but they loved the darkness more than the light, for their actions were evil. 20They hate the light because they want to sin in the darkness. They stay away from the light for fear their sins will be exposed and they will be punished. 21But those who do what is right come to the light gladly, so everyone can see that they are doing what God wants."22
Afterward Jesus and his disciples left Jerusalem, but they stayed in Judea for a while and baptized there.
At this time John the Baptist was baptizing at Aenon, near Salim, because there was plenty of water there and people kept coming to him for baptism.
This was before John was put into prison.
At that time a certain Jew began an argument with John's disciples over ceremonial cleansing.
John's disciples came to him and said, "Teacher, the man you met on the other side of the Jordan River, the one you said was the Messiah, is also baptizing people. And everybody is going over there instead of coming here to us."
John replied, "God in heaven appoints each person's work.
You yourselves know how plainly I told you that I am not the Messiah. I am here to prepare the way for him -- that is all.
The bride will go where the bridegroom is. A bridegroom's friend rejoices with him. I am the bridegroom's friend, and I am filled with joy at his success.
He must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less.
"He has come from above and is greater than anyone else. I am of the earth, and my understanding is limited to the things of earth, but he has come from heaven. f32
He tells what he has seen and heard, but how few believe what he tells them!
Those who believe him discover that God is true.
For he is sent by God. He speaks God's words, for God's Spirit is upon him without measure or limit.
The Father loves his Son, and he has given him authority over everything.
And all who believe in God's Son have eternal life. Those who don't obey the Son will never experience eternal life, but the wrath of God remains upon them."
Scripture quotations marked NLT are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright 1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved. (New Living Translation - The Bible Online)