Reflections on John 3:16-18 Part 1


The Bible in Your life and Your Life in the Bible

" God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him " (John 3:15)


In these verses we come face to face with the climax of God's plan to establish a loving relationship with man. We have seen the creation of man, the abundance of life in union with God that man was meant to enjoy, his fall and the consequences of that fall, separation, isolation, fragmentation of self and of relationships and the curse which he brought upon himself and on the whole of creation. We have also seen how man must be born to a new life by means of the Holy Spirit and we have seen the cross as the means for being saved from the curse. We have now reached the climax, the moment of choice, either to accept and believe in Jesus Christ, the only means of becoming free of that curse under which the whole of humanity lies and thereby reverse the entire process begun by the first couple or refuse and remain under the curse in the grip of the power of death.

Let us ask ourselves if these verses leave us indifferent or if they penetrate to the depths of our being. There might be a certain detachment and perhaps even indifference if we read these words merely as a statement of universal value, which of course they are. They may have a greater impact if we read them in a more personal key, if we read “God so loved me” that he sent his only Son so that in believing I may have eternal life. Am I fully aware that the Father has given his only Son for me, so that I can live? How often do we say: “I’m sorry I can’t give you that it’s the only one I have left”. God gave. He gave his only Son. It was out of love for us that God gave his Son.

Many seek to love and be loved. Let us open our eyes and our hearts to the love that is now being offered and with that love, the love of God the Father, we shall be caught up in the dynamic of love that will enable us to establish lasting, loving and stable relationships with those around us rooted in the source of all stability, in he who lies outside of time and change. We are all called to become recipients of that love and channels of that same love for others.

The first couple already enjoyed abundance of life but chose to forfeit that and hide from God thereby plunging the world into chaos and alienation from God as we can still see today. Now that same choice lies before us: “so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life” (v. 16). There is no life apart from Christ for he is the life “I am the way, truth and life”. The gift comes with the giver we cannot have one without the other. This good news is for everyone no matter who that person is; everyone is acceptable all that is needed is an outstretched hand to receive and surrender ourselves in trust to obtain that new life without end.

Loving, giving, believing and receiving. These are the essence of life and the eternal cycle of dynamic Christian living. The first two belong to God and the last two are man’s response. However, all four have their roots in God; it is he who takes the initiative by loving and giving. Even believing and accepting are only apparently the initiative of man. We cannot approach God in our own strength. It is Christ who draws us to himself, through the power of the Holy Spirit and it is he who unites us to the Father:
And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself. (John 12:32)
No one comes to the Father except through me. (John 14:6)
there is also one mediator between God and humankind, Christ Jesus, himself human, who gave himself a ransom for all (1 Timothy 2:5, 6)
Give, give, give; God is the one who gives and this is the distinguishing mark of the Christian who never tires of giving. Whatever we keep exclusively for ourselves is unfruitful and is eventually lost. It is often said that we can take nothing to the grave with us. There is only one thing we can take with us and that is what we have given, and God multiplies what little we have to give:

A man came from Baal-shalishah, bringing food from the first fruits to the man of God: twenty loaves of barley and fresh ears of grain in his sack. Elisha said, ‘Give it to the people and let them eat.’ But his servant said, ‘How can I set this before a hundred people?’ So he repeated, ‘Give it to the people and let them eat, for thus says the Lord, “They shall eat and have some left.”’ He set it before them, they ate, and had some left, according to the word of the Lord. (2 Kings 4:42-44)

They said to him, “Are we to go and buy two hundred denarii worth of bread, and give it to them to eat?” And he said to them, “How many loaves have you? Go and see.” When they had found out, they said, “Five, and two fish.” Then he ordered them to get all the people to sit down in groups on the green grass. So they sat down in groups of hundreds and of fifties. Taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven, and blessed and broke the loaves, and gave them to his disciples to set before the people; and he divided the two fish among them all. And all ate and were filled; and they took up twelve baskets full of broken pieces and of the fish. Those who had eaten the loaves numbered five thousand men. (Mark 6:37-44)

Whatever is given is multiplied and the divine source of giving is inexhaustible. We may not have a bucket, the well may be deep, but we still have access to the water of life:
‘Sir, you have no bucket, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water? ... The water that I will give will become in them a spring of water gushing up to eternal life.’ (John 11, 14)
This is life. There is more joy in giving than in receiving:
In all this I have given you an example that by such work we must support the weak, remembering the words of the Lord Jesus, for he himself said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”’ (Acts 20:35).
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