16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. 19 This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil.20 Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. 21 But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.
(John 3:16-21 NIV)
Yesterday we finished looking at the conversation between Jesus and Nicodemus. Today we shift from Jesus’ words to the Apostle John’s words of explanation and encouragement.
Verse 16 is possibly one of the most well-known and oft-quoted verses in the New Testament. Starting with verse 16, John switches from narrator to preacher, building on Jesus’ words in verses 13, 14, and 15.
John lays out God’s salvation plan in verses 16 through 18, reminding us that God loves us and wants to redeem us, reconcile us to Himself, and restore us to a full relationship with the Trinity. God’s motivation and attitude is not begrudging or belittling; His attitude toward us is pure, unconditional love.
God’s motivation and attitude is not begrudging or belittling; His attitude toward us is pure, unconditional love. We do not have to “get our act together” for God to love us; He loves us in our worst hour, in our most crucial moments. The offer of salvation is unconditional and ever-present to those who have not made the choice to follow Him.
Are you as amazed as I am of the economics of God’s love? God loves us unconditionally and has a vast universe of love for humanity. His love can never be exhausted or depleted. He loves us lavishly and gives His love freely. And He invites us not to hoard His love, but instead to pass it along freely to others. In fact, the more of Christ’s love we give away to others, the more we have in our hearts as a result. Incredible!
In verses 19 through 21, John builds upon verse 18, referring to those who hear the good news of Christ as the way to eternal life but refuse to believe. In verse 19, John examines their motives for not believing. John says that they love the darkness of their sins more than the light of God’s forgiveness, grace, and love.
John uses the familiar analogy of Jesus as light in verses 19 through 21. If you recall, John began his Gospel associating Jesus with light in his prologue (chapter 1, verses 1 – 18).
John concludes in verse 21 that we are not doomed to darkness. We have the choice to move from darkness to light when we believe in Christ as Messiah. While John does not explicitly call out Nicodemus as his example of one who made that choice, he implies that Nicodemus moved from darkness to light and believed in Jesus as Messiah that night. Our study yesterday (as we jumped ahead in John’s Gospel) showed us Nicodemus’ choice.
Why does God love us, even in our sinful state before we come to Christ? The Scriptures don’t explicitly tell us but remind us often that God does love us, that He even likes us and wants to have a personal relationship with us. He invites us into community with the Trinity, to walk and talk and dance with us throughout our life journey.
May we bask in the light of His love today, as we experience the warmth of His favour and affection. And may we share Christ’s love with others, just as He shared His love with us.