Sunday 08 March 2020

Bible Book:

‘For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.' (v. 16)

John 3:1-17 Sunday 8 March 2020

Psalm: Psalm 121


The readings in the coming week are about people in Corinth who were living in difficult situations and, with trial and error, working out just what is meant by Christian discipleship. On what rock do all of us stand?

For many readers, today’s reading from John’s Gospel will be one of those passages that is very well known. Is there anything new that one can say about John 3:16, perhaps the most well-known verse in the Bible? Let’s start by looking at the story that leads into this famous verse.

Nicodemus, a Pharisee, arrives at night. The imagery is important. Night and darkness symbolise unbelief, ignorance and even temptation in John’s Gospel. What follows is a conversation in understanding what 'new life' in God’s kingdom is all about. It means living in the ‘real world’, but seeing things with fresh eyes; living alongside others, yet being fully aware of God’s presence in every situation. Nicodemus is confused. Jesus says, “Are you a teacher of Israel, and yet you do not understand these things?” (v. 10) Personally, I often wonder how much I would have understood about Jesus if I had been physically living at the same time as him, so I have some sympathy with Nicodemus.

Jesus then continues, but is this message just for Nicodemus (who is not mentioned again in this passage) or for everyone? The Son of Man, who has descended from heaven, will be lifted up and bring eternal life for all those who believe (verses 13-15). Now why would our heavenly father want to do this? Why would God send his son to go through all this trouble and pain and suffering? Why doesn’t God, with either an angry heart or even a heavenly shrug, just let his created world self-implode as a huge mistake?

Verse 16 is the answer: “For God so loved the world ...” For God loves you and me and everyone else in the world, in his cosmos; and wants us to be with him in eternal life, glimpsed now and fully engaged in the world to come. In loving response we turn to the light and rejoice that God wants all of us to be with him – if we believe in all that Jesus stands for and died for.

As the words of Singing The Faith 503 remind us:
“Jesu, thou art all compassion, pure unbounded love thou art;
visit us with thy salvation, enter every trembling heart.
... changed from glory into glory, till in heaven we take our place,
till we cast our crowns before thee, lost in wonder, love and praise.”


To Ponder:

  • What does “God so loved the world” mean for you today? Does it in any way affect the way you worship or behave towards other people?
  • What will you do today to help someone know that they are loved? And loved by God?
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