John 3:19-26

John 3:19-26 has John continuing to describe Jesus ministry and purpose – the set people free from the penalty of sin and give them eternal life if they will only surrender and believe in Him.  “This is the crisis we’re in: God-light streamed into the world, but men and women everywhere ran for the darkness. They went for the darkness because they were not really interested in pleasing God. Everyone who makes a practice of doing evil, addicted to denial and illusion, hates God-light and won’t come near it, fearing a painful exposure”.  This is what sin does to us – it makes us hide or try to avoid a righteous and holy God.

Sin isn’t something that sneaks up on us.  The devil doesn’t make us do it.  Sin is a choice – a willing decision we make to disobey God.  It’s that simple.  We aren’t a victim.  We are the perpetrator.  We made a choice to sin.  As a result, we want to hide that and stay under the cover of darkness.  We convince ourselves that somehow we can hide what we do wrong from God.  It can’t happen.  God knows all.  He sees evil no matter how hard we try to cover it up.  We will stand before God and His light and have to give account.  We will be exposed for who we are and answer for it.  And that won’t end well for us unless we have Jesus Christ as our substitution.

That’s the good news of the gospel.  We are sinners – there is no question about that.  All of us have sinned and we will face judgment.  But Jesus went to the Cross to set us free from the penalty of sin.  If we have a personal relationship with Him, He covers our sin with His blood and we are seen as righteous in God’s judgment.  “But anyone working and living in truth and reality welcomes God-light so the work can be seen for the God-work it is”. Jesus sets us free from the penalty and price of sin.  He is our Savior.

After this conversation, Jesus went on with his disciples into the Judean countryside and relaxed with them there. He was also baptizing. At the same time, John was baptizing over at Aenon near Salim, where water was abundant. This was before John was thrown into jail. John’s disciples got into an argument with the establishment Jews over the nature of baptism. They came to John and said, “Rabbi, you know the one who was with you on the other side of the Jordan? The one you authorized with your witness? Well, he’s now competing with us. He’s baptizing, too, and everyone’s going to him instead of us”.

The question of baptism that comes up is related to disrupting the power and financial structure of the Jews.  John the Baptist and those following him had found a way to co-exist with the establishment.  But Jesus is now baptizing people on the other side of the Jordan.  And while John the Baptist was baptizing with water, Jesus baptized with the power of the Spirit and the establishment sees their power being threatened.  It’s viewed as a competitive offering and they were not buying into that happening.  So they begin discussing what they could do to stop Jesus.

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