Jesus: Very Truly I Tell You

40For40 Bible Reading Day 3: John 3:1-36

big announcement very truly i tell you

He came to Jesus at night and said, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the signs you are doing if God were not with him.” Nicodemus, John 3:2

It sounds as though Nicodemus, a higher-up in Jewish religion of the day,  got who Jesus was. That is until Jesus gave him three big, “Very truly I tell you,” announcements – things Nicodemus should have been aware of in the first place.

There’s so much Jesus packs into his discourse that it kind of leaves your head spinning. Until finally, we come to one of the most well-known (if not the most well-known) verses of the entire Bible, John 3:16. I don’t even need to quote it. You know it.

It’s what comes before that is sometimes overlooked, but is a very big deal when it comes to understanding Jesus’ purpose and testimony.

Between verses 3 and 11 John quotes Jesus as prefacing his discussion with Nicodemus with the words, “Very truly I tell you.” The “very truly I tell you” phrase is used by Jesus in John’s gospel a total of 26 times. It’s used in John more than in any other Gospel, and is used nowhere else in all of the New Testament. It’s used here three times.

So when we read this phrase, we should pay very close attention to what follows. Because what follows is obviously an extremely important truth Jesus, through John wants us to know, and believe.

Very Truly I Tell You…

No One Can See the Kingdom of God Unless They are Born Again

Born again means “born from above” in the Greek. In other words, “born of God” (see 1:13). So then to just see the kingdom of God one needs to have God’s involvement. But there’s more…

Very Truly I Tell You…

No One Can Enter the Kingdom of God Unless They are Born of the Water and the Spirit

To the first “very truly,” to see the kingdom, Jesus adds no one can enter it either unless they’re born of the water and the Spirit (v 5). First we are born of water – human birth, but then we must be born of God – Spiritual birth. But there’s more…

Very Truly I Tell You…

We Speak of What We Know, and We Testify to What We Have Seen, But Still You People Do Not Accept Our Testimony.

In verse 11, Jesus, after chiding Nicodemus a bit for not understanding basic things, uses the third “Very truly I tell you” phrase that John recorded in this chapter. But with a bit of a twist, he uses three plural pronouns (we, we, and our) that brings other people into the conversation.

Who’s the “we” in this statement? It could be in reference to Jesus and John the Baptist. And, since Jesus brings up Moses in verse 14, it could be in reference to him and Moses, and perhaps all of the prophets throughout all of Scripture. And it could be in reference to Jesus and God and the Holy Spirit. Which is it? I think it could be all of the above. The point Jesus is making is that Nicodemus and all of Israel (“you people”) should have by now accepted their testimony.

The testimony that points to the love of God in sending Jesus, the Son of God and savior of the world (John 3:16).

It’s like Jesus was saying to Nicodemus it’s right in front of you. Why can’t you see it? “You are Israel’s teacher,” said Jesus, “and do you not understand these things?” (v10). You should have seen me coming. You should know this stuff by now.

Sometimes, we Christians have the Nicodemus syndrome. We keep asking, doubting, reasoning, questioning. When the answer is right before us – right inside us, all along.

And in verse 18, when John writes, “Whoever believes in him is not condemned,” he’s speaking of ongoing and settled beliefs, not one-time or momentary convictions.

We should know then, and move forward with great confidence, hope and ongoing belief in Jesus words. We should pay particular attention to the “Very truly I tell you” statements in the Gospel of John. They have the power unto eternal life, and life in his name both now, and forever more.

Here’s a list of the other 23 references to “Very truly I tell you” in John’s Gospel:

  • 1:51 – you will see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending…
  • 5:19 – the Son can do nothing by himself…
  • 5;24 – whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life…
  • 5:25 – a time is coming and has now come when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God…
  • 6:26 – you are looking for me…
  • 6:32 – it is not Moses who has given you the bread from heaven…
  • 6:47 – the one who believes has eternal life.
  • 6:53 – unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood…
  • 8:34 – everyone who sins is a slave to sin.
  • 8:51 – whoever obeys my word will never see death.
  • 8:58 – Jesus answered, before Abraham was born, I am!
  • 10:1 – Pharisees, anyone who does not enter the sheep pen…
  • 10:7 – I am the gate for the sheep
  • 12:24 – unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies…
  • 13:16 – no servant is greater than his master…
  • 13:20 – whoever accepts anyone I send accepts me…
  • 13:21 – one of you is going to betray me.
  • 13:38 – before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times!
  • 14:12 – whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing…
  • 16:7 – it is for your good that I am going away…
  • 16:20 – you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices…
  • 16:23 – my Father will give you whatever you ask in my name.
  • 21:18 – when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted…

Get in on the 40For40 Daily Bible Reading Plan on The Writings of John…

Click Here to Download The Writings of John 40For40 Reading Plan

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