John 3: 14-21:
14 Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, 15 that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.” 16 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. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. 19 This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. 20 Everyone who does evil hates the light and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. 21 But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.
God’s intention is not to condemn, but God does not force us to be saved. We have been created with freedom of choice. That means that we can make bad choices as well as good.
Eugene H Peterson was an American Presbyterian minister and theologian who paraphrased the New Testament in a ‘sense-for-sense’ rather than a ‘word for word’ translation. His paraphrase of verse 19 – 21 above is illuminating: ‘This is the crisis we are in: God-light streamed into the world, but men and women everywhere ran for the darkness. They went for the darkness because they were not really interested in pleasing God. Everyone who makes a practice of doing evil, addicted to denial and illusion, hates God-light and will not come near it. But anyone working and living in truth and reality welcomes God-light so the work can be seen for the God-work it is’.
This gospel passage stresses the importance of faith and is most consoling. All who believe in Jesus, who died and rose for us, have eternal life. God sent his Son into the world so that it might be saved, and not to condemn it. Jesus is the key to salvation.
All the blessings we long for are contained in Christ. We are all prone to error and sin. But Jesus’ mercy and goodness towards us always rescues us. Therefore, we are called to reconcile with each other when relationships are scarred and broken.
At times I have heard of our learning communities being referred to a ‘lighthouses’. Belief in Jesus is light – a light that illumines us and all around us. This is the ‘life-changing’ impact that our communities can have in their unique context and setting, to draw people in, so that they have opportunity to witness and experience the love of Jesus.
Our gracious and loving Father, thank you for sending your son into this world, to us a broken people, held captive by sin. Help us to trust in Jesus Christ alone as our saviour and help us to spread your love in our actions. Amen.