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I want to show you something. When John talks about brazen sin, perpetrated by obvious sinners, he doesn’t use the image of darkness. When he wants to show us bold-faced sinners, he uses a different image. In fact, he does it in the very next chapter, chapter 4, where he introduces us to the Samaritan woman who met Jesus at the well. Here was a woman who had had five husbands, and, as Jesus points out to her in the account, “The one you have now is not your husband” (4:18).


But notice that neither John nor Jesus uses the word darkness in chapter 4. No, the image there is different. Instead of darkness, it is one of thirst. Jesus tells the woman, as he points to the well where she has come to draw water, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but those who drink of the water that I give them will never be thirsty” (4:13-14). When it comes to the hard sins, the really notorious sins, Jesus, in the words of an old hymn, “looks past the sin and sees the need.”


Back in chapter 3, where John uses the image of darkness to talk about sin and to reveal its deceptive grip on the human heart.... Look at this! It is in Jesus’ conversation with an upstanding community leader, a religious person, a teacher no less! May I simply hint at the possibility that, when John discusses the darkness, you and I are to see ourselves implicated. It’s not just the hopeless sinner that is in view here; it is the respectable sinner as well.

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