After much deliberation the dreaded moment comes when a jury is asked for its verdict: “Guilty, or not guilty?” – and then the highly charged pause awaiting the answer.
And after much deliberation in John 3:1-18, the moment comes when Jesus also makes his verdict. His concluding remarks are made in verse 18, a simple statement that “whoever believes is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.” A sentence will be pronounced, then, based on whether a person believes in Jesus being the Son of God, or not.
With that understood, Jesus bangs his gavel in verse 19 and says, “This is the verdict.” And what follows is an explanation as to why people do, or do not, believe in him being the Son of God. Which is good to know, because it’s like a heads-up for all of us as to what this life of ours actually boils down to. It’s a simple point: do we believe Jesus is the Son of God? And is that important? Well, yes, when God sent his Son into our world to show us how we can live forever (verse 16).
But he also sent his Son into our world to explain why living forever doesn’t mean much to people. Jesus tells us why in verse 19: “This is the verdict,” he says; it’s because “Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil.” So it’s in us to prefer doing evil things.
Which leaves us in a horrible predicament, because, verse 20, “Everyone who does evil hates the light.” It’s horrible because we can’t stop hating light, just like cockroaches cannot stop themselves scurrying into the darkness at any sign of light either. But why do people hate light so much? It’s “For fear their deeds will be exposed.” The pandemic, for instance, visibly exposed the money-grubbing greed of pharmaceutical companies, and the censoring of anyone who dared to expose them. And they couldn’t stop themselves doing it. Evil had become second nature to them. It had become who they were. Such is Jesus’ verdict.
There’s more to Jesus’ verdict, though, because in verse 21 he says, “whoever lives by the truth comes into the light,” so living by truth also exposes motives and actions, but with a huge difference, because they’re “being done through God.” God can be seen in them. They are living proof God exists, because his motives and actions have become second nature to them.
And what is their motive? Paul explains in Ephesians 5:8, that If we “live as children of light” what drives us, verse 10, is “figuring out what pleases Christ.” And why do we do that? Because we believe he’s the Son of God.