Advent: December 5
Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, 15 that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.’
16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.
We might know John 3:16-17 well (I included the previous verse to put the for in its context), but because Jesus is talking indirectly about himself, we might lose some of the impact of what he is saying. It was not a commentator who said these words, but Jesus himself, about himself. He refrained from saying it in the first person, as at that time it may have sounded too scandalous, and may have cost him his life before time.
God’s love for the world (i.e. mankind – you and me) was such that he was prepared to give of himself in Jesus. This act of love is more than we will ever comprehend. When John wrote his letter, even he could not fully grasp what he wrote: “How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!” (1 John 3:1).
This act of love is more than we will ever comprehend – yes, I’ve repeated myself. We can spend a great deal of time pondering God’s love, and putting it into words, but they will be insufficient. There’s nothing to be gained by prodding the concept with a stick – we will only discover its fullness in action. I know more about Father’s love from being a father myself than from anybody telling me. I know more about Jesus’ sacrifice in the times I have messed up and desperately need forgiveness.
We should read on, though, because verse 18 follows on and makes the distinction between those who believe in Christ Jesus and are saved, and those who do not and are not. Jesus’ name carries power and authority just like God’s name. I don’t want to preach eternal condemnation, but I do know mercy and forgiveness for this sinner who courts condemnation.
Do you believe that you are not condemned?
How do you reciprocate God’s love for you?
How do you respond to the person who says that we all go to heaven anyway?
What language will we use in heaven?
Father God, you loved me so much that you sent your Son Jesus to me, that I may have eternal life. Help me to personalise this truth to me as I put my faith and trust in Jesus, my Lord and Saviour. Amen.