God loves this world and has always loved it into a further revelation of that love. John writes that God loved this world in this particular way; God sent the son to offer eternal life. This saving of the world is not merely the judicial non-condemnation of its inhabitants, but saving the world from not being a revelation place. The inhabitants are saved from the dark of not knowing who they are; saved from not knowing the good works for which they were also saved.
What an amazing gift God has given us. He sent his son to redeem each of us. We can easily see ourselves as insignificant, just because of the sheer numbers of people who share this planet with us now, not to mention throughout history.
We can see what we do as insignificant in comparison with the brilliant, the great, the famous and those known for their holiness. We can see our insignificance in so many ways, but God does not see any of us as insignificant. He sent his son for you individually and for me individually.
What a love that is! All we have to do is accept that love. We make the choice. God does not choose whether to love us. He loves us; of that we can have total confidence. We make the choice whether to accept his love and live in his light or reject his love and live in the dark.
There are some things in life that are mutually exclusive. According to probability theory, mutual exclusivity with two events or elements implies that they cannot occur at the same time. They are different and cannot co-exist with each other. If you flip a coin, you either get heads or tails...they are mutually exclusive events. The occurrence of heads automatically implies the no-occurrence of tails.
These verses from the gospel of John speaks to us of mutually exclusive events. God looked at the world and saw that it was doomed and that He needed to do something to save it (mutually exclusive states). Consequently, He gave His son in order to save this doomed world, moving it from sure destruction to everlasting life (mutually exclusive states).
He didn’t give this incredible gift of His son to judge and condemn our sin and chaos, but to love and restore (mutually exclusive states). It’s actually a pretty simple plan; we believe in him and are acquitted or not believe and remain condemned (mutually exclusive states).
This whole plan involves God sending light into a dark world and we know that darkness and light cannot co-exist with one another. And so here comes our choices and the mutually exclusive consequences; unbelief or belief, chaos or order, condemnation or acceptance, dark or light, death or life. The choice should be an easy one.
One might wonder what would ever lead us to reject this most fantastic gift. But what is most awesome about all of this is that when we are foolish enough to reject his gift, it is still there for us. He does not take away the redemptive power of his son. His love is there for us to accept. In that love there is total comfort and security, no matter what else is going on around us.
A strong theme of john’s gospel is that of Jesus being the “light”. Remember, Nicodemus has come to visit Jesus by night. John uses this symbol to present Jesus as the one who has come into the darkness of the world to illumine to the world how beloved we all are.
Jesus as the light both enlightens those who see him and believe in him, but calls to all to come out into the light and do those works which are lights by which the goodness of God might be seen as well.
There are those who choose darkness and so remain unaware of their being so loved. These choose the works appropriate to darkness. The real evil is that those who choose darkness choose the evil of not knowing, accepting and living their truth as loved and saved in Christ.
The result of this gospel is that those who know who they are in the light of Christ will more clearly desire their identities to be shown in the works of “light” which they live. The converse is true as well. If we do not know, or refuse to accept who we are, then that personal darkness will play hide and seek with their lives. They will seek hiding and secretly hope their selfishness never is exposed.
Jesus is the ultimate deliverer. When God gave to the people on earth his only begotten son, he was delivering us in the ultimate manner. Only through Jesus could people understand God and ultimately go to heaven. Whether we are physically delivered or ransomed in our souls, it is through Jesus that we are ultimately delivered. Only through belief in Jesus is there salvation. Those who believe can approach the light of the world, but the unbelievers stay always in the darkness.
The light of God’s gift dispelled the darkness and in the process, revealed the state of chaos that this world was in. It was the darkness of evil, of denial and of delusion. When the light revealed these things, people ran for cover as it is not easy to feel our sins exposed. We sometimes choose the darkness because it seems easier to stay in our legalism, our resentments, our busyness and our fear. And thus, we choose to stay in the world of destruction and judgment.
However when our belief focuses on God and His gift of light, we enter into the world of light, freedom, salvation and hope. We are exposed, but in the light of God’s love and acceptance. We no longer run from the light, but bask in the warmth and glory of what God has done in our lives.
God did love me and you enough to send his son to the world. Jesus carried out the plan for the salvation of each of us by his life, death and resurrection. His life here on earth is the embodiment of God’s love for each of us.
In return for His love, God asks that we believe in Him. He asks us to follow His commandments, His teaching in the bible and through the church. And He asks us to believe and follow His son Jesus. For me, the following of Jesus is not too much to ask in return for the love of almighty God. And yet as St John further tells us and as we well know, some people do not believe. They either reject or are indifferent to God’s love; they prefer darkness to light. For us who prefer the light, the task is clear. It is to believe in God and to show our belief in God by the way we live.
If we choose to believe in God and follow his commandments and teaching, it seems to me that St. John is a wonderful model to follow. St John’s gospel is often called the gospel of love. He makes love the subject of much of what he tells us about Jesus. In few well-chosen words St John presents for our contemplation the greatest act of love ever recorded.
The implication of the words: “he gave his only begotten son” is profound. For we who believe, these words convey a love that is almost beyond our understanding. We look to St John and the other apostles and all the saints who have gone before us. We look to them for the example of their belief and their fidelity in following Christ. We seek to learn from them how to imitate their example, and how to be true believers.
Our faith should not stay in our head. It should be reflected in our hearts, arms, legs, fingers, and toes as we do works that proceed from the love of God and love of neighbour, which St Augustine described as medicine that we need from the church. The Church is indeed a hospital for sinners, and we must come with a desire to become well, not merely to reflect on our symptoms.
God so loved the world that he gave his only son. God holds back nothing, not even his beloved son, in order to extend his compassionate hand to us, to bring us back to life, to restore our relationship with him and with one another. It is because God is so forbearing, magnanimous, and compassionate that we have reason to rejoice, not just today, but every day.