John 3:16 is just the tip of the iceberg to understanding all that Jesus came to do.
8:20 I [wisdom] walk in the way of righteousness, along the paths of justice, 21 bestowing a rich inheritance on those who love me and making their treasuries full.
Yesterday, we looked at the verses previous to John 3:16. Today we will look at the verses immediately following. As we look at context, let’s remember that this famous verse comes after the conversation between Jesus and Nicodemus, a religious leader. John 3:16 is a conclusion and explanation for why God came to earth as Jesus. For further explanation, let’s look at the following verses along with verse 16.
16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.
Here is the crux of the reason for His coming. Jesus came to save the world through His being lifted up (see vs.14-15). What does it take? Believing (trusting) in Jesus. What happens to those who don’t?
18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.
So, there is a problem. We are stuck in death-mode and can’t get out. Just like the people who were bitten by the snakes (see Numbers 21:8-9) and chose to look at the snake on a pole, people who choose to look to Jesus are healed of death-mode. Those who choose to not look to Jesus are consigned to live in darkness without the light of life (see v.21). Jesus won’t force them to be healed (He has a strict non-interference policy concerning our free will).
19 This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. 20 Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed.
God does not choose for us (remember the non-interference policy); we make the decision to live in the light or to turn away from the light and live in darkness.
21 But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.
This description describes what it means to be “born again.” Just as a baby moves from the dark world of his mother’s womb to the light of the outside world, we move from darkness into the glorious light of the presence of God. To what truth is John referring? The truth of who Jesus is: God in the flesh, God with skin on. When we begin to act according to His direction, we experience His presence, participation, providence, protection, as well as His love, joy, peace, hope, grace, and His company!
One more thing, since Jesus is life, to walk with Jesus is to have eternal life. Tomorrow, we will look at the end of this chapter and its conclusion.
Abba, Your word is like a treasure chest; as we pull out treasures, there are more treasures waiting for us! “Open our eyes that we may see wondrous truths in Your word” (Psalm 119:18). Amen.