Published on May 6th, 2020 | by God's Squad DNA team0
For God so loved the world, John 3:16-21. April 22, 2020 by Nigel
Welcome to our reflection on John 3:16 – 21, from a sunny Leicester
It may be safe to say that the opening statement of today’s reading, is one of the most fundamental and gospel defining statements in the New Testament. ‘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’. It’s a statement of hope, a confirmation of unconditional love, a lifeline to a world that was lost. This is a statement of authentic love, not some sentimental nonsense, love that is proved by painful action.
So, who is this Son that God gave to save the world? This is the Son who is fully God, uncreated, eternal, without beginning, in perpetual communion with God the Father, and God the Holy Spirit. This is the all-powerful God who was given to save us, who experienced birth in difficult times, who took on the name Jesus. The one who travelled the countryside with mates, spending time with the poor, healing their physical wounds, and bringing them peace from their guilt. This wasn’t God pretending to be human, or a human being pretending to be God. This was Jesus, fully God, and fully man. Fully God who is able to save, and fully man who is able to experience all that we struggle with, all that we suffer through, and all that makes us human.
John talks about the ‘Son of man being lifted up’. This is a reference to the cross, where Jesus was lifted up and crucified. This was where the love of God in Christ was revealed in a painful witness, with no room for shallow sentiment. For God to love the world, to love us, to save us, came at a cost. The result is that ‘whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life’. Believing in Christ also means change, and John talks about this in terms of light and darkness. John tells us light has come into the world, but people preferred darkness because their ‘deeds were evil’. Those things we do which we know aren’t right, we do under the cover of darkness. Those things which cause us to feel guilty, the hidden things which only we know about, Christ came to forgive rather than condemn, but we need to be living in the light.
In my youth, I spent a lot of time at the local swimming pool in Eccles. The swimming pools of that era, especially Eccles, were a far cry from the modern swimming pools we have today. Rather than gym equipment, it held a set of baths, where locals who didn’t have baths in their houses would come regularly. The swimming pool was cold, the dingy changing rooms lined the poolside, and the swimming pool harboured certain types of wildlife. I first came across the local swimming pool wildlife one day, when I ventured into the cellar. There was a musty smell, as I got to the bottom of the cold stone stairs.
I reached for the light, and noticed the dark brown floor was moving. The whole floor was covered in cockroaches, who when the light was switched on moved like lightning into the corners of the room, and disappeared, leaving an equally grimy, damp, stone floor. We had seen these cockroaches in the showers, and in the pool on odd occasions. But I hadn’t dreamed there would be so many of them living in the public swimming pool. I didn’t stay down there long, but ran up those stairs, just needing to get outside into the open air. Once into the blazing summer sunlight, there was a feeling of freedom, just breathing the fresh air made me feel better.
At some stage of our lives most of us have lived in the shadows, we’ve probably done things we aren’t proud of. John talks about people preferring the dark, because of their deeds, even though light has come into the world. The nature of the creatures who lived at the pool compelled them to live in the dark. For us though, we were created to live in freedom and light. ‘Light has come into the world’, so let us walk in the light of Christ, knowing that ‘God so loved the world, that he sent his only Son, not to condemn, but to save the world through him’
(Picture shows the mist clearing, as the sun breaks through to show the beauty of the Italian Alps)
Nigel (Malty) – GSCMC European President