29: John 3:16-17
29. John 3:16
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)
Jesus said this. It is the wonderful testimony about God’s own love.
“We together, Father, Son and Holy Spirit so loved the world”, He could have just said “Father” as often He did in John’s gospel but He wanted us to know this was a collective passion and a collective decision.
“so loved the world”. God in three persons, loved the world (Greek “kosmos”). Everyone.
Despite the flagrant sin of both Jew and Gentile, both chosen and rejected, of those who didn’t know God’s ways and those who supposedly did. In the end all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23), those who were helped and those who weren’t. Those who were taught the truth and those who weren’t. Those who saw miracles and had miraculous journeys and history with God and those who hadn’t. Those who were sent messengers and those who weren’t. Those who experienced the manifest presence of God and those who didn’t.
All have sinned. Everyone. All have rebelled against God. All have rejected His wonderful invitation for eternal relationship with Him. All have turned away from His love. Again and again and again.
But “God so loved the world”. He can’t stop loving because that would be to deny everything about who He is. And He loves everyone. The same “everyone” that has so proudly and arrogantly rejected Him. We’re all included in that love. Equally included.
And He doesn’t just love us. He “so” loves us. He loves us so much. So much that He cannot keep from sending us overtures of His love. He must express His love to us. Even though, ultimately, most of us are going to carry on arrogantly rejecting Him. Because it is that wonderful, God-only type of pure, selfless, agape love that goes on sacrificially giving regardless of whether it is received or not.
God’s love cannot be stopped, or quenched.
“that He gave His only Son”. A free will offering. A love gift. From the heart of God together comes the Son. One of Their own. The most precious and delightful gift they could give. The second Person of the Trinity. Because only perfection will do.
The gift needs to be perfect if it is to perfectly express God’s love. The gift needs to be perfect if it is to become the perfect sacrifice. The Lamb of God that John the Baptist pointed to.
The gift needs to be uniquely perfect, because there is only one way to save the world from the righteous wrath of the God Who sent this gift. There is only One who can turn aside the eternal judgement of Almighty God, a God of flaming righteousness and that is God Himself. “God will provide Himself an offering” said Abraham to Isaac (Genesis 22:8) and He was right.
“That whoever”. There are no boundaries to this love nor to those who are offered this gift.
“believes”. The same word as in John 1:12. It means to put all our trust in, or to hang all our hopes on. It means actively living every day, trusting in this one solution alone for life and salvation. It means we turn aside from every other possible answer and chose to exclusively trust in this one answer to all our questions. And that answer is Jesus.
“in Him”. Or “in Me”, because Jesus is speaking of Himself. This is not Jesus plus someone or something else. This is not living our life for ourselves but having Jesus as an insurance policy in our back pockets. This is trusting in Jesus alone. “If you want what We are offering” says Jesus, “you need to put all your trust in Me.” And what will happen to those who do? They:
“shall not perish”. “Perish”, the destiny of all who will not actively believe and trust in Jesus. The Greek word “apollymi” means to utterly destroy. But those who put all their trust in Jesus alone shall not be utterly destroyed.
“but have eternal life.” Those who put their hope and faith in Jesus get the polar opposite of perish. They are not utterly destroyed. They fully live.
Our sin caused us to be sent out of the Garden of Eden, away from the tree of life. If we had access to that tree of life we would have lived for ever and sin would have been perpetuated not just through all our generations but throughout all eternity. That is why God removed us far away from it and set Angels to guard over it to make sure we don’t find our way back.
But if we believe in Jesus, the tree of life is restored to us. We are back in the garden of God’s love and acceptance. We have had the first wave, the results of sin, for thousands of years. Now comes the second wave, the descendant of Adam and Eve who treads on the serpent and satisfies the “unquenchable” thirst of the fires of hell, the storm of God’s anger.
God’s appetite for righteous and terrible wrath is not unquenchable. It can be eternally satisfied.
But only by Him who satisfies everything.
Jesus satisfies the appetites of God even before He satisfies ours. God was in Christ, reconciling all things to Himself (2Corinthians 5:19). In Christ, God was satisfying His appetite to bring everything together that had been scattered apart, but doing so without compromising one iota of His appetite for righteousness. Jesus satisfies both. Because Jesus satisfies the appetites of all who look to Him, including His Father’s.
The greatest most forceful of all God’s appetites that must be satisfied is love. That can only be satisfied through Christ. For God so loved the world.
Jesus continues His mission statement with a profound, unshakeable fact that should not be missed by Christians and a Church that seeks to emulate Him. Those of us who are prone to believe that our primary role is to tell the world what it is doing wrong should take particular note.
“For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world”. The world already stands condemned. Jesus could have made it the primary focus of His preaching and ministry. But He didn’t, even though the world stood and still stands, condemned. He would have been preaching the truth.
But here is truth and grace at work. God, in Christ, wraps up the bundle of His gift to us in His grace. He does this so that we do not get primarily impacted by the condemnation that we truthfully deserve, but by the love, the self sacrificing agape love, that is going to destroy our condemnation before we even properly recognize or understand it.
“but in order that the world might be saved through him” (or, again, Me because he is speaking of Himself).
God’s plan is for the salvation of the world, the cosmos, the created order of things. That word “kosmos” is the word used for decoration. Articles and pretty things things that are set in place in a house to enliven and enhance the atmosphere and experience of those who live in it. This cosmos, like a beautifully decorated Christmas room, has been subject to decay and curse because of the Fall, like the dusty and spider webbed room in Dickens’ novel Great Expectations. But his cosmos will be saved, reawakened and enlivened. This cosmos and all those who receive and believe in the Son will experience resurrection life.
Resurrection life begins with death. It starts with a dead body. There is no resurrection without death.
This resurrection life that is promised begins with death. It started with a dead body that couldn’t decay. Because in the death of this very body, the curse of death itself was broken. Jesus broke the curse in His death. It no longer had any hold on Him, even though His body had no physical life left in it.
God promised through the psalmist that He would not let His holy One see decay.
“Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices;
my body also will rest secure,
because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead,
nor will you let your faithful one see decay.” (Psalm 16:9-10)
But now God has sent His Son, the Light of the World into the dark, dank, decaying world that He created and we spoilt. He comes empowered by the Wind of Heaven, blowing away dust, dirt, grime and cobwebs, and switching on the beautiful and twinkling lights which are supposed to fill the room with joy and hope.
Those newly lit lights are those that are made in the image of The Light. These children of The Light are the children of God, that, like their source, shine in darkness, are not understood, are resisted, but can never be extinguished.
God has come to save His world by saving His lights, His children, who are filled with resurrection life so that, even though outwardly they are wasting away, yet inwardly they are being daily renewed by the resurrection power of the Holy Spirit so that they shine as lights, together a city set on a hill and individually as stars in the universe in which they will shine forever.
“God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whosever believes on Him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.”
God loved the world so much that He came to switch the lights on.Posted on: June 5, 2018Peter Todd