John 3:16-21 FOR GOD SO LOVED THE WORLD
Jesus continues to teach Nicodemus. We miss this little tidbit if we do not read the whole chapter and take John 3:16 out of context. It helps to read these verses imagining Jesus sitting one on one with Nicodemus late at night without others to bother the two, maybe his disciples quietly listening as well. John 3:16 is probably the most popular verse in the Bible and yet it is very personal, one-on-one, with me, that Jesus says, "For God so loved the world, that He gave his only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life." It is so personal, that I can even insert my name, "For God so loved Cheryl, that He gave his only Son, that if Cheryl believes in Him, Cheryl should not perish, but Cheryl shall have eternal life." God loved me. God SO loved me. God does love me. So much so that He demonstrated that love by giving His only Son to die for me so that I will not perish, but have life eternal in heaven. Now that is true love! What Good News! God loved the world (and me) first! God gave His most precious gift to me, He gave me His only son so that I might live eternally! To believe/have faith is a gift from God. It is nothing I do. My part of the relationship is to refuse to reject Him. How long is eternal? It lasts forever. How long is everlasting? For as long as God loves which never changes. These words were said by Jesus! What a self-sacrificing love. Oh how he loves me! This is the kind of love I should have for others because Christ is my example to follow.
3:17-18 What a comfort to know that Jesus did not walk on this earth to condemn me, but rather to save me. Now that's love! Believers are not condemned and non-believers are already condemned – already. Not believing condemns. Of all the fears I have in the world, the eternal world is the one that should be feared most. As a believer, I have no fear of eternal condemnation. Sometimes I get so hung up on my sins and feeling down about them that it seems I am focusing on the condemnation instead of the freeing Savior and His forgiveness. We are condemned from birth. We were condemned the moment Adam sinned. We need Jesus because we cannot fix our own condemnation.
3:19-21 Jesus is called "the light" that has come into the world, but people love the darkness anyway because of the evil they do which they do not want to be exposed. Everyone who does evil things hates the light and does not come to believe the light. It seems rather like a child who is hiding what they have done wrong because they are afraid of being punished, rather than admitting faults. Little do these people know that in admitting faults forgiveness follows. It would seem that the darkness blinds them from the truth. The opposite are those that do what is true who do come to the light, which does allow sin to be exposed, but also allows Jesus's forgiveness to be clearly seen. It is much better to live life in the light than in the darkness. Do not love the darkness of sin, but rather the light that is Jesus Christ. I love The Light that shines on me and exposes my wicked ways, unlike those who do not want to be exposed. I love that The Light also exposes those things that I do good and He will exalt me. I do not need to do anything. Jesus exposes both the bad and the good in me and then forgives the bad in me. I should not be afraid of what will get exposed by The Light. No one likes to have their wrong ways made public and that is a great fear even from childhood when we are afraid our parents will punish us for our wrongdoings. However, nothing can be hidden from God. Embrace the light and the forgiveness that follows.
IN CHAPTER 3, there is a pattern of "musts."
Verse 7: You must be born again (Sinner)
Verse 14: the Son of Man must be lifted up (Jesus)
Verse 30: He must become greater; I must become less.” (Jesus and Sinner)