“This is the verdict,” pronounces Jesus at the end of the midnight discussion with his questioning visitor. He’s speaking like a judge, an investigator, a philosopher and a physician all in one. He wants to explain abstract ideas in a way we can understand, because He, like no other person on earth, has a unique perspective—an otherworldly view–on life. He has the whole story, the big picture, the last word. Hearing this verdict of His will separate the ‘men from the boys’. It will determine who goes on to flourish in the fullest sense of human existence, and who will refuse, preferring the slow petrification of soul and spirit.
His verdict starts with a metaphor, saying, “Light has come into the world”. It reminds us of the morning sun that greets us as we wake to each new day. But this light is more significant than our earth’s sun; this light is the source and sustenance of real, complete, and eternal existence. It is the light of God’s presence, truth and unending life embodied in His one and only Son, Jesus. Do we greet this light with joy and acceptance, or do we roll over and hide our heads under the cover of our nighttime existence?
The continuation of the verdict tells us that “(people) loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil.” This, He says, is the problem: We choose actions contrary to God’s desire for us, thinking we are expressing our right to freedom, but in so doing we find ourselves ruled by those dark deeds. Even our highest emotions can be in bondage to actions that are godless at the core.
There is no divine balance on which God weighs the evil and the good we do, granting us divine immunity if the good outweighs the bad. The verdict is worse and better than that.
“Everyone who does evil hates the light,” He continues, “and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed.” That’s a grim prognosis, isn’t it? Is he right? Have we ever experienced that phenomenon where we find ourselves hiding something we’ve done or thought? Why would we hide it if there was not a vestige of our conscience that was pronouncing its own verdict of searing light on our choice?
But He doesn’t stop there. There is also good news. He goes on to say, “But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God.” Stepping willingly and humbly into the limelight of God’s complete knowledge of us is transforming. Admitting our faults as darkness, and accepting His ways as light is a daily necessity for us. It’s a journey. The experience of being ‘born again’ into new spiritual life does not make pious oblates of us. It simply means we now can see our own faults more clearly and are willing participants in a divine therapy of de-petrification. Hard hearts are made soft and pliable. Blind eyes are daily given more and more clarity.
Jesus’ verdict leaves Nicodemus and us with a choice: we may stay in the dark about our real state of affairs, or step into the light. And make no mistake about it – if we choose light rather than darkness, the journey of partnership with God will not always be easy. There is an old poem that says, “God has not promised skies always blue…” But the path of believing Jesus will be true and right and good. We can take His word for it.