“After dark one evening, a Jewish religious leader named Nicodemus, a Pharisee, came to speak with Jesus…” John 3.1-2.
“The earth was empty, formless mass cloaked in darkness…” – Genesis 1.2
“In the beginning the Word already existed. He was with God and He was God.” John 1.1

John chapter three opens in the darkness.  Nicodemus is looking for Jesus because he has some questions for Jesus.  So he will not be seen, Nic looks for Jesus in the darkness.  It reminds me of the creation of the world.  When the world was first created, scripture tells us, it was made in darkness.  Darkness implies chaos, non-order, and without structure.  It seems amazing to me that John began his Gospel in the creation act (before really) and that this chapter seems to have a similar element.  Darkness covered the earth and everything was in chaos.  There was no light, nothing to show us reality; just darkness, emptiness, and aloneness.

Interestingly, John starts out his Gospel by talking about Jesus as the “Word”.  That Greek word is Logos.  It means structure and (correct) order.  Already we have seen that John’s purpose in writing his Gospel is to encourage our beliefs in Jesus.  So it is not surprising that he begins talking about Jesus.  However, it is surprising where he puts Jesus and how John casts Jesus.  Jesus is living with God before the beginning of time and creation.  Jesus created all things that exist for God’s glory.  Jesus is eternal.  Jesus is God.  Jesus is order and light and hope for all.  Jesus is the Word of God.  Jesus will be God’s Man of Action, creating a way for us to return to Him.

Nic’s life at the moment must have looked a lot like the environment of creation: chaotic, without structure, dark, and alone.  Nicodemus saw a spark of light and hope because of Jesus.  If light had entered the world at the moment of creation all one would have seen was swirling masses colliding, smoking, and spinning.  But when illumination comes into our lives we see things as God sees them, as God originally intended for us to be.  God did not intend for there to be a chasm between us and Him.  He did not want the darkness, we chose that.  God created us to be his children, princes and princesses of the King of Kings.  God designed us to be in constant community with Him, just as Jesus and the Holy Spirit.  We rejected that life and went out on our own to make our way in the world.  We have failed miserably and now hide in darkness to try to cover our shame.  So God became a man and entered our darkness to shine a light, to provide hope, and create a way for us to escape the darkness and live in the light.  God sent Jesus, a Savior.  Nicodemus met Jesus in the Temple that day, heard the truth about the reality of God, and hungered for more.  He went to Jesus and followed Him.  He moved from the chaos of his religion, tradition, and his life to the light of Jesus.   He longed for a firm foundation that would help him order his life, his world.  Jesus provided that and so much more.

Darkness is a place we find ourselves with regularity.  We live in the darkness of limited knowledge, a limited point of view, and hopelessness.  Life brings about darkness; a husband leaves his family, a loved one gets cancer, someone we love dies.  Life seems to be filled with darkness and finally end in dismal circumstances.  How can anyone have hope?  How can God be good when bad is all I can see?  Darkness surrounds us and engulfs us.  We try but cannot seem to pull ourselves out of the darkness.  We need help.  We need to be saved, saved from the world’s darkness, saved from our participation in the darkness.  We need a Savior.

It is at this very point that we meet Nic and his search for the truth.  Nic chooses Jesus and follows Him to light, to life, and to salvation from the darkness.  It is the way.  Let me be clear: it is NOT one way but the ONLY way to return to the order of our original creation, our originally designed purpose.  We cannot create a way to the light, our lives have proven this point beyond any question or doubt.  When we choose our way we always end up back in the darkness.  It does not make any difference how good our intentions are, we always end up back in the darkness.  We cannot make a way into the light.  That is something only God can do.  We must follow His way, His path out of the darkness if we are ever going to live in the light again.  God chose Jesus to come into our darkness and show us the path.  He provides the Holy Spirit to help us walk the path and get where we are going.  All that is left is for us to follow the path, depending only on Him for directions, and we will find our way home again.