John 3:21-33 — to do Truth – & – Nicodemus remained a trusted friend (part 10) – LeGrand Baker

So far as we are told, the conclusion of the conversation between Nicodemus and Jesus was Jesus’s explaining that he is the Light of the World.

16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.
18 He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
19 And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.
20 For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.
21 But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God (John 3:16-21).

The implications of that are enormous. Earlier this year, in several discussions of John 1:1-4, I wrote about what it means that Jesus is the Light. Briefly the ideas are these (In the following paragraph I make no attempt to justify my rationale, but you can use the search engine to find the16 discussions of John 1:1-4 that deal with those ideas).

Christ is the Spirit of Truth and knows all truth. Truth is knowledge of reality in sacred time. When an intelligent entity assimilates truth he exudes light. Because Jesus knows all truth, his light “fills the immensity of space.” That light (not just the photons we see) is the energy from which all spiritual and physical things are made, and it is our source of life. When an individual exudes pure (celestial) light, that light is love, therefore love is tangible in the same way that light/energy is tangible. Truth/light/love are equivalents, the words are simply different ways of describing the same characteristics of deity and of persons who are becoming like God. Love is the power that binds together the souls of all intelligent beings. The quality of one’s light/love defines the quality of his eternal nature, therefore of the glory of his resurrected body, and therefore the quality of his eternal life. The product of truth/light/love is joy. The quality of one’s joy is determined by the quality of his truth/light/love. As the Savior is the source of the light from which our bodies are made, so is his love the power that enables us to both experience and repent. His Atonement enables us to choose to love or not love, and to exude the quality of light that defines the quality of our love. While we are free and independent beings, our freedom and our power to grow are nurtured and made possible by the power of the Savior’s love.

I believe that is what Jesus explained to Nicodemus. Therefore he could conclude,

19 And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.
20 For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.
21 But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God (John 3:18-21).

When the Savior taught Nicodemus (and ourselves) about the power of truth, he did not limit our relationship with truth to what we know, but he broadened the meaning to include what we do. He said, “he that doeth truth cometh to the light” The Prophet Joseph elaborated on that principle in his Inspired Version where he used two other words in place of “doeth.”

21 But he who loveth truth, cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest.
22 And he who obeyeth the truth, the works which he doeth they are of God (JST John 3:21-22).

He divides “do” into two separate parts: to love and to obey the truth we know.

To love truth is easy to understand. Truth/light/love are equivalents, so to love truth is simply to bask in the beauty of its glory. One cannot love truth without first loving God and his children.

To obey truth is to bring our lives into conformity with the Truth/light/love in which we rejoice. To do this, we must first rely on the Church to enable us to make the necessary priesthood covenants and participate in the ordinances which affirm and validate those covenants. When we do that and begin to be cleansed by power of the Holy Ghost we also begin to obey truth.

Whether we read it as “do truth” or “obey truth,” it is the same. There is a propriety that rules the kingdom of God, and everything must be done accordingly or it is not acceptable. Elsewhere I have discussed the word zedek which is translated as “righteousness.”{1}

Zedek means absolute correctness in priesthood and temple things. In ordinances like baptism it means doing it in the right place, dressed the right way, using the right words with the right authority, holding one’s arm the right way, burying the person in the water and lifting him up again. If anything is added and taken away, the ordinance is not performed in zedek and therefore is not valid. But when they are done correctly, the love one exudes — and accepts from God and others — seals the covenants and ordinances and makes them eternal. As the psalmist sang,

142 Thy righteousness is an everlasting righteousness, and thy law is the truth.
143 Trouble and anguish have taken hold on me: yet thy commandments are my delights.
144 The righteousness of thy testimonies is everlasting: give me understanding, and I shall live (Psalms 119:142-44).

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Even though that ends John’s account of the conversation between Jesus and Nicodemus, it does not end the story. The story concludes with these words:

22 After these things came Jesus and his disciples into the land of Judaea; and there he tarried with them, and baptized (John 3:22).

In the next chapter we learn that, “Jesus himself baptized not, but his disciples (John 4:1-3).”{2} Now the questions are, Who is ‘them’ and who is ‘he’ in the words, “he tarried with them, and baptized”? ‘Them’ is Jesus and the twelve. ‘He’ is Nicodemus. Otherwise, to say that Jesus tarried with himself and his disciples is a redundancy and makes no sense whatever. The meaning has to be that “Nicodemus tarried with them and baptized,” which tells us that Nicodemus became a disciple of Jesus, received the priesthood, and acted in Jesus’s behalf.

John mentions Nicodemus twice more, once when he defends Jesus before the Pharisees (7:50); and again when he brings spices and helps prepare Jesus’s body for burial (19:39).

My conclusion is that Nicodemus became — and remained — Jesus’s dear and trusted friend.

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FOOTNOTES

{1} Check zedek in the search engine. I always use that spelling, but it is sometimes also spelled tsedeq.

{2} The Inspired Version says “he [Jesus] himself baptized not so many as his disciples (john 4:23).” While it says Jesus did baptize some people, it does not change the meaning of “he tarried with them.”

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