Lost in the Dark
If you don’t believe Me when I tell you about earthly things, how can you possibly believe if I tell you about heavenly things? (v.12).
Last March, the Ecuadorian navy rescued 18-year-old Adrian Vasquez after he had aimlessly floated 28 days across the ocean on a 10-foot schooner. He had gone fishing with two friends, but as they headed toward shore the motor failed. Vasquez’s friends soon died from exposure and hunger. When he was found, the fortunate teen was 600 miles from home. He was clinging to life and completely disoriented. “He was quiet, looking lost,” the navy captain said. Vasquez asked for a phone to call his mother and to call his boss in order to explain why he’d been absent.
Nicodemus, a religious leader, came to Jesus with questions. Wanting to highlight how Nicodemus was lost and groping in the night, John clarifies that Nicodemus came “after dark” (v.2). In John’s gospel, darkness often has a metaphorical meaning. For instance; darkness represents the shroud of confusion and death covering the world (3:19-20), and darkness represents people who stumble and lose their way (11:10).
In contrast, Jesus is the Light who brings salvation into the world (1:9, 8:12). Light, through Jesus, breaks through the impenetrable darkness. Wherever darkness and death are found (which is everywhere), the brilliance of God’s work in Jesus Christ bursts free. Whoever is lost in a dark night (which is everyone) can be found by Jesus’ light.
The question for Nicodemus was whether or not he would walk into this light—whether or not he would grasp Jesus’ teaching. He repeatedly asked how the things being taught could be possible (vv.4,9). Nicodemus couldn’t comprehend Jesus’ strange words.
“If you don’t understand,” Jesus said, “I can’t help you” (v.12, my paraphrase). Jesus’ words stand for us as well. If we don’t choose to follow and understand Jesus— if we don’t walk into the light—we remain lost, groping in the dark.
Read John 3:16 again. Reconsider this famous verse from the vantage point of Nicodemus, the one who is confused and bewildered.
Where do you feel lost? How do you need to receive Jesus’ light today?