Nicodemus asked, “What do you mean by this? How does this happen?”
Jesus said, “You’re a respected teacher of Israel and you don’t know these basics? Listen carefully. I’m speaking sober truth to you. I speak only of what I know by experience; I give witness only to what I have seen with my own eyes. There is nothing secondhand here, no hearsay. Yet instead of facing the evidence and accepting it, you procrastinate with questions. If I tell you things that are plain as the hand before your face and you don’t believe me, what use is there in telling you of things you can’t see, the things of God?
“No one has ever gone up into the presence of God except the One who came down from that Presence, the Son of Man. In the same way that Moses lifted the serpent in the desert so people could have something to see and then believe, it is necessary for the Son of Man to be lifted up— and everyone who looks up to him, trusting and expectant, will gain a real life, eternal life.
“This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again. Anyone who trusts in him is acquitted; anyone who refuses to trust him has long since been under the death sentence without knowing it. And why? Because of that person’s failure to believe in the one-of-a-kind Son of God when introduced to him.
“This is the crisis we’re in: God-light streamed into the world, but men and women everywhere ran for the darkness. They went for the darkness because they were not really interested in pleasing God. Everyone who makes a practice of doing evil, addicted to denial and illusion, hates God-light and won’t come near it, fearing a painful exposure. But anyone working and living in truth and reality welcomes God-light so the work can be seen for the God-work it is.” // John 3:9-21
There is just so much here to unpack. It is no wonder that this is a passage that has multiple books written about it.
I think what really strikes me about this passage this morning is the crisis and the solution. The way that Peterson renders this is beautifully haunting and it rings true to so much of what we are seeing in our world today.
This crisis of men and women running for the darkness seems to be ever present. Does it not? Why is it that we can’t have nice things? It’s because people tend to run toward the darkness. That description of being “addicted to denial and illusion” is on the money for our world isn’t it?
So what’s the solution? “Anyone working and living in truth and reality welcomes God-light so the work can be seen for the God-work it is.” This way of living reflects the life lived in light of Christ coming to make things right. Did you notice that? We see the last paragraph get a preview in the paragraph before. “God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again.”
When we are addicted to the darkness we fear the light.
When we are addicted to the wrong things the right things are awful.
Let’s think about it like this. When I started trying to eat right fruits and vegetables were not very tasty to me. I longed for the sweetness of refined sugar. As I pressed on and didn’t eat refined sugar fruits and vegetables gained sweetness and flavor. Did they change? No. I changed. As I broke my addiction to sugar real food tastes better than any processed food I’ve ever eaten.
When we think about living life to the full it means living life in reality. It means breaking our addictions to denial and illusion. If we are going to be a people who are trying to help set the world right by following Jesus then we need to run from the darkness and toward the light. This is going to take work. It’s going to force us to admit that not everything we believe or hold onto is true and real. But, it’s so worth it.
To live life to the full is to live life in the light.