Firstly, we are given an affirmation of Christ's authority over all things. Unlike John the Baptist's words, which come from the earthly plane, the words of Jesus are from above. This is the testimony in which we can therefore truly trust, and which, we may say, also reinforces the challenge to the Nicodemus in us to come out: out of our furtiveness and hiding places, our of our darknesses, into the full light of Christ. Do we hear that call again today? What is it that Christ is asking of us in our journeys?
Secondly, we are promised the gift of God in this coming out and living in the light. Interestingly, some early manuscripts did not have mention of the Spirit in this text. Conceivably that is therefore and emphasis added later by those who sought to tidy the text up in Trinitarian form. Perhaps so, yet even then the Spirit is arguably at least implicit in this passage, just as the Spirit is made more explicit later in the fuller reflections upon the relationships of the Godhead in this Gospel. Behind this may also be the contrast between the baptism of John the Baptist in water, and the baptism of Jesus with water and the Spirit: this latter being an infinitely more valuable a gift to us, especially as this flows, we are told, from the very depths of the Father who gives all things to the Son. Does that make a difference to us, do you think? It should. For it reminds us that our life in Christ is not fundamentally about deeds or rituals, , or even obedience to God, still less to the Church or other authority on the earthly plane. Our life with Christ is about actual participation in the life of God in Godself. This is truly worth coming out of the darkness into the light for.
For, thirdly, in calling us into the light from above, to receive the gifts of the incomprehensible but truly transforming Spirit of God, this Gospel passage assures us of new life, both right here and for eve: new dimensions of existence, meaning and love. In that respect, we need not become too obsessed with the word 'wrath' at the end. Let us leave that to the fundamentalists to obsess about. It is but the throwaway shadow of the context of conflict, and, indeed, the word used here for 'wrath' is only used once, in this place, in John's Gospel. For the real emphasis of John, and Jesus, is clear. Unlike John the Baptist, the end times have already begun, wherever and whenever the Christ, the one from above. is present and accepted. So let us rejoice in this promise of new life in this season of resurrection. Let us come out from the places of hidden darkness which exist, in between, and around us. Let us receive the boundless gift of God's Spirit and walk onwards into eternal life. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
by Jo Inkpin, for 27 April 2017