RELIGION → ← TRUTH
Out of the Night, Into the Light
If you ask people around the world to recite a Bible verse, there’s no doubt the most common response would be John 3:16. It’s easily the most well known verse in the Bible . . . and with good reason. It’s the entirety of God’s work and plan in less than 30 words.
This famous verse comes to us from an encounter between Jesus and a Pharisee named Nicodemus. Now, this man was no ordinary Pharisee. He was a member of the Jewish ruling council, otherwise known as the Sanhedrin. Now, the first thing that sticks out about their interaction is that it took place at night. Why would Nicodemus approach Jesus secretly in the middle of the night? He was more than likely afraid of what associating with Jesus would do to his status among the Pharisees.
As you may know, Jesus and the Pharisees didn’t have the best relationship. The interactions found between them in the gospels usually involve Jesus calling the Pharisees out on their hypocrisy or the Pharisees trying to discredit Jesus. In one instance, Jesus actually calls them “whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean” (Matthew 23:27 NIV). So it’s no wonder this curious Pharisee, this ruler who must have been searching for more than what his religiosity had given him, would secretly seek Jesus, whose revolutionary teachings captivated the crowds and caused quite the stir amongst the Jewish people.
What golden nugget does Jesus offer this wondering and wandering Pharisee? He warns him, “No one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again” (John 3:3 NIV). If you’re anything like Nicodemus, a man of intelligence and logic, you’re probably saying, “What? How can someone be born again?” Doesn’t make much sense, right? And Jesus goes on to explain how just like we’re born physically, we must also be born spiritually. Before Jesus came, we were all spiritually dead because of our sins (Ephesians 2:1–5).
And now, the most important question comes to the forefront . . . “How can someone be born again? How can we become alive spiritually? John 3:16! Believe in the Son, the One sent by God because of His love for us. This must’ve been a complete shock for Nicodemus. You see, all his life, he’d been trained to believe that his entry into God’s kingdom depended on his behavior and right standing with God. But the truth is, this was an impossible task because mankind could never do enough to earn right standing before God. Our sin created an unbridgeable gap between God and us. But now, Jesus comes along and says all Nicodemus needs to do is believe in the Son—have faith! This is the truth of God’s Word, the truth of God’s plan of salvation.
In today’s verse, Jesus ends His conversation with Nicodemus saying, “But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light.” One of the running themes in the Gospel of John is the contrast between darkness and light (John 1:1–11, 9:4, 11:10, 13:30, 19:39, and 21:3). Here, in the dead of night, out of the darkness of his life and religiosity, we see Nicodemus come into the Light of the world!
Today, every single one of us has the opportunity to come into the light, to leave the darkness of uncertainty behind. All we need to do is believe in the truth of God’s Word, which says, “But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead” (Ephesians 2:4–5 NLT).
DIG: Read John 1–3.
DISCOVER: Throughout his gospel, John references light and Jesus as the light of the world. What does light represent? How does this apply to our relationship to Jesus?
DISPLAY: Write down the names of three, or more, people in your life who you want to see the light of Jesus shine in their life and pray for them each day this week.