During the month of January, in our student ministry, we are journeying through John in a series called “Intersections: Crossing Paths with Jesus”. We are taking a look at 4 different people, chronicled in the book of John, that interacted with Jesus and how that moment changed their life.
This past week we looked into John 3 and the conversation Jesus had with Nicodemus…in the evening…or “Nick at Night” (credit to Jon Monsour for that insight!).
During our time in the Word, our students marveled “That’s where John 3:16 is found?”. Of course John 3:16 is found in the third chapter of John. But it is eye opening to see the most quoted and memorized verse of Scripture is nestled in the context of Nicodemus crossing paths with Jesus.
Nicodemus was a Pharisee. A professionally religious person. A good but misguided man. Unlike some of the other Pharisees, who attempted to publicly humiliate, shame, and expose Jesus as a fraud, Nick came at night to have a private conversation with Jesus on deeper spiritual truths.
The thing about Nicodemus is that he was a professional condemner. His job was to create and enforce religious laws to protect the sanctity of the nation of Israel. His job was to point out to other people what they were doing right and, probably more often, point out what they were doing wrong. It was a government position. For many of the Pharisees it went to their head. They lost touch with reality and added so many details to each law that it was virtually impossible to feel any but condemnation any time a Pharisee walked by…or even worse, stop to watch what you are doing.
So Nick is standing in front of Jesus, and Jesus blurts out the iconic phrase:
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16 ESV)
But for Nicodemus’ (the professional condemner) sake, He goes further:
For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. (John 3:17 ESV)
We, just like Nicodemus, find freedom from condemnation not by doing the right thing all the time, but by accepting this amazing Gift given to us. Condemnation is not a subject from which we find freedom easily. We condemn ourselves. Other people condemn us. Sometimes no one is condemning us and we feel condemned…unworthy…ashamed.
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. (John 3:18 ESV)
May we find freedom from condemnation…DAILY…by the amazing Gift given to us.