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Jesus and Nicodemus

(John 3:1-17)

Lesson 3 -- second quarter 1999
March 21, 1999

by Mark Roth
© Copyright 1999, Christian Light Publications

"God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world." I suppose Nicodemus knew exactly what Jesus meant. After all, Jesus had not condemned him: "If you really believe what you say about me, why do you not say these things in front of the people? And why come sneaking here under the cover of darkness? Nicodemus, you simply lack the courage of your professed convictions. Forget it. If you want an answer, come back tomorrow afternoon when the crowds are around. Otherwise, you are a two-faced coward."

Who but the Son qualifies as Chief Condemner? Yet God did not send Him the first time to condemn the world! Dare I act as though God sent me to condemn the world? I wonder how often the Lord would send me away...and then speak comfortingly to my victims, "Neither do I condemn thee."

Which brings an interesting question: Why should a Christian want to condemn anyone? Sometimes we do it because someone rubbed our fur the wrong way, then put a burr under our saddle. Not a very noble disposition, but that is how we react sometimes. Then at times we condemn others because they reject truth we see. Other times we condemn them because they have sinned. Sometimes we condemn them because they don't know any better...or because we don't know any better. Some of these reasons make sense, others certainly don't. But do you know of any good reason for us to condemn others? Do you suppose it would be acceptable to condemn someone for not accepting Jesus?

I wonder if we dare be satisfied with letting God and His Word do any condemning that needs to happen. Look, if you think about it, their own lives will condemn sooner or later. So what's my hurry? My hurry should be to see them saved. That is the reason why God sent His Son, you know.

Jesus came to make the way, be the Way and lead in the way. May the mission of His followers be to see the Way, point to the Way, and help in the Way! May we not hinder His work here and now by setting ourselves up in the position which He only will occupy in that Day.

Make no mistake, though: I believe in calling sin sin. Hatred, drunkenness and thievery are wrong. So are gossip, railing, disrespect and divisiveness. The challenge and responsibility for us is maintaining integrity in calling sin sin. This means applying God's Word and definition, not our own. Shall we be content with presenting the truth...and letting it do the judging?

I also believe identifying sin falls short of God's methods if it does not include a clear invitation to repentance and restoration. To tell someone he has sinned without pointing him to the Lamb of God which takes away the sin of the world is wrong! Tell me, what are you more interested in for that person in the wrong: condemnation or salvation? Jesus came for the latter!

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