Following last week’s sermon on the foolishness of the cross, this week we get a chance to practice this foolishness as we reflect on one of the most well known verses of the Bible, John 3:16;
“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.”
John 3:16 in Context
With a foolish hope, we suspend our certainty of the meaning of this verse. We take a look at the lesser known verses that surround John 3:16, and we use the context to understand more deeply what this verse is about. Rather than using this verse as a judgement upon who is in and who is out, we come to see it as an invitation to participate in the forgiveness, light, and life that has already been given to all of us.
We think about the serpent lifted up in the desert and how Jesus being lifted on the cross is related to it. John 3:16 is not a verse about condemnation of those who do not believe in Jesus. It is not a get out of jail free card for a coming apocalypse. It is an invitation to step outside of the condemnation that we put upon ourselves by choosing to live in the darkness.
Forgiveness is the message of John 3:16
Jesus forgives us first, and we are invited to know that we are forgiven and loved. More often than not, we feel like we need to seek Jesus forgiveness in order to be freed of our feelings of guilt and shame. We are the ones who are condemning ourselves by choosing to live in the darkness of seeking our forgiveness rather than in the light of knowing that we are forgiven. This is not about God’s judgement upon those who do not believe in Jesus. It an invitation to be healed by the life transforming work that Jesus has already done on the world’s behalf.