The Gospel according to John (3:13-17)
Jesus said to Nicodemus: “No one has gone up to heaven except the one who has come down from heaven, the Son of Man. And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, so that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.” For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him.
Imagine you entrust all your most valuable possessions to a group of friends to take care of. Not only that, but you leave your children and other family members with them to care for until you return. A few months later you receive word that your possessions have been discarded and your loved ones abused and abandoned. I know I would feel anger and want to punish the people responsible. Would I not be entitled to justice?
The conversation that takes place between Nicodemus and Jesus is portrayed in the series The Chosen. If you have not seen it, I highly recommend you do. They do such a wonderful job not just with the scriptural text but also with the energy, emotion, and empathy exchanged in one of the most personal encounters in Jesus’ ministry. In it Jesus foreshadows his death on the cross as a victory over death. If we gaze upon the broken body of Jesus on the cross and believe the words we hear today, “For God so loved the world…” then we can live our lives without fear. For there is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for a friend.
In what becomes a familiar theme in the ministry of Jesus, the ways of the world are turned upside down. We are the ones who have been entrusted with gifts from God too numerous to count. Yet often we have abused or discarded these gifts. And although we are guilty of many sins and we deserve to face the consequences for our actions God, in his infinite mercy and compassion sends his son to make things right. Not by condemning us but by offering us eternal life with Him. So rather than being punished we are given an opportunity for a life filled with His grace, forgiveness, and mercy. How incredibly generous is our God!
If we lived every day with a true understanding of how much God loves us how different would our lives be? How different would the world be?
Action of the day:
In prayer and meditation today, take John 3:16 and replace the word world with your name. For example, “For God loved Paul so much that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.” Hopefully, by personalizing this passage we can try to understand that each and everyone of us is loved so much that if we were the only one on earth God would still send His son to save us.