Monday, December 7, 2015

Trading Condemnation for Love (John 3:16-21)

In the next paragraph—perhaps the most recognized of the New Testament—we see that God’s love is what drives His mission, and it is what drives His people. But we also see a lot more, in the less recognized part of the passage.

Jesus didn’t come to judge the world, He came to save. Judgement has already happened even if formal judgement hasn’t yet been pronounced. The world is not a neutral place where Jesus came to save some and condemn others. The world stands condemned. We have all rebelled. This is why John writes here that anyone who trusts Jesus will escape judgement (as they no longer belong to the world) but anyone who is of the world and has rejected God is already judged.

The evidence abounds. That is why the world hates the light. It shines and exposes the deeds that condemn. We all recognize our condition, even as many attempt to deny, ignore or justify themselves. But some—those who are willing to trust, to throw themselves on God’s mercy—escape that judgement. Their sentence has been carried out and served by Another.

And there we see the love of God. Even while we were justly condemned and awaiting sentence, God sent His beloved Son to die in our place. Once we accept this love and realize its implications, we no longer belong to the world. We are now bound to, dependent on, and shaped by that love as we live in the world, carrying on the mission of God.

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