And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and the people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. John 3:19
Everyone who has watched sports for any amount of time should be familiar with one verse in the Bible. This is the verse that makes the top ten–top five, even–memory verses for kids going to Vacation Bible School, AWANA, Sunday School, you name it.
It’s so well-known that I probably don’t need to type it out in this blog. It is the #1 evangelical go-to verse. If someone in the Western world doesn’t know it, they would likely recognize it pretty soon after it gets recited:
For God so loved the word …
yes, that’s familiar. And who doesn’t like that. Even Richard Dawkins probably would find that appealing.
that He gave his only Son …
When you think about this, it’s controversial. For Muslims, the notion that God has a Son is a point of offense. To our minds, considering that God is giving His Son for the world might seem rather mixed. He loves the world more than His Son? But it speaks to the fervor of His love.
that whoever believes in Him should not perish …
No one wants to die, but this speaks more about an eternal death than mere physical death on this plane of existence. Still, it’s a good promise for people.
but have eternal life.
This is the promise that everyone in the world would love to have. Eternal life! We have stories of the fountain of youth. We have industries devoted to keeping us looking younger and extending our vitality, as if we could add a single day to our life through creams, pills and surgery!
Of course, eternal life can also be a curse. There’s an old myth about a man who wished for eternal life, but forgot to ask for eternal youth, as well. The quality of his eternality was grueling!
All of this brings us to … the rest of the story. God loves the world. But He hates sin.
If we stop at John 3:16, we get a nice verse with a promise of eternal life (which indicates the quality, not just some quantity).
Moving on, we are further encouraged because the Apostle tells us that Jesus did not come into the world as a man to judge us, but to save us.
Good news! Many cling to that, and for good reason. But they miss the next few verses.
God sent Himself in the form of His Son on a rescue mission in order to save us from the condemnation we deserve for our rebellion against Him.
What other ruler would do that? What ruler would sacrifice Himself to spare a rebellious group of outcasts?
Hint: The previous verses give that away.
But notice the following:
Whoever believes in Him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.
Whenever you see “name,” think “nature.” The person who rejects God’s Son, rejects the very nature of God. What is the nature of God? Love.
Love that is rescuing.
Love that is sacrificing.
Love that is patient.
But also, love that cannot allow evil to go on forever. Light has no part of darkness. Love has no relationship with evil. The one must drive out the other. And, for anyone aware of how the world works, light drives out darkness. Every time.
So, we come to verse 19. The judgment. Jesus came to rescue us. He is the Light of the World. But people loved the darkness because their works were evil.
All of us share that judgment, that our works are evil. From day one we serve our own interests, not God’s. We gather glory for ourselves and we resent that God would demand the glory He deserves.
I pray that those who read this, if you have rejected God’s loving nature in Jesus, that you will repent–turn from thinking that your works of evil cannot be forgiven and accept Jesus as your substitute for God’s punishment. Let Jesus clothe you with His righteousness so that you can receive God’s love.