Today’s passage comes fromSt John’sGospel where Jesus converses with the Pharisee Nicodemus. Nicodemus was an earnest seeker of the truth and Jesus intrigued him. He recognized Jesus as someone sent by God, but was he something more ?
Nicodemus sought the Master out one night, and in a long conversation Jesus explains to him the meaning of ‘God’s kingdom’, and the way to eternal life.
Eternal life or salvation comes through faith in Jesus, God’s Son. It is a gift, not something earned or something stolen. Sin may have alienated the world from God, but God doesn’t condemn the world because of this. Rather, he has reached out in love to save it by sending his Son into the world. What mankind is expected to do is to accept God’s Son, Jesus, and place its trust in him.
Alas, this is not always done. John shifts his metaphor to that of light and darkness. Those who are good accept the light and walk confidently in its glare, for God is present in all that they do. Those who are evil prefer darkness to the light, so that their evil deeds are not seen. But in doing so they pass judgment upon themselves, for they are unwilling to turn to Jesus and place their trust in him.
The conversation with Nicodemus gives us in a capsule all the great themes of John’s Gospel: God’s great love made visible in Jesus; the conflict between light and darkness, between salvation and judgment, and between faith and unbelief.
Just as those who believe already experience the beginnings of eternal life here and now, so too those who reject Jesus already stand condemned.