Hello and welcome to Tuesday’s Foundations podcast. My name is James and I’m really looking forward to leading our reflections on the Bible this week.
Today’s reading holds arguably one of the most famous passages in the whole of the Bible. John 3:16. It appears all over the place… It’s often read at weddings. I’ve seen in hung up in homes so many times. YOU MIGHT EVEN HAVE IT ON YOUR FRIDGE. I’ve known people to even come to faith in Jesus by reading these words and the penny dropping about what Christians are trying to tell the world.
Here they are: 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.
How awesome is that… even if these words are really familiar, let’s try and rediscover the wonder.
Let’s just break it down a part at a time.
This is all about Him before it has anything to do with us.
He is the initiator of our salvation and the saving grace.
For God so loved…
Love is not something that he does but it is something that he is. It’s not that all love is God. For example, I love pies and I’m not sure how much that desire is divine. Love itself is not the thing that we worship but God is described as love.
And so here in these words… For God so loved the world… it is as if God is compelled to this action of love. Notice the word so… The sentence would still make sense without that word but it is in there for a reason. Such is the desire for God to love the world.
By ‘the world’ we don’t just mean the planet, but all of humanity. That includes you and me. We could easily substitute our own name into that sentence and it would still hold integrity.
For God so loves me… (James)… For God so loves you…
It is not just that God knows me… that he likes me… but he loves me…
I cannot begin to tell you how much trying to understand this truth has transformed my life. And I hope yours too. That we are SO LOVED.
We are the object of his love. It is what we have been made for… the discovery of this truth and to respond to it is the start of becoming a disciple of Jesus.
Now I am going to stop with this unpacking of words very soon, after this next layer, because we will very easily run out of time. There so much that could be said even about these few words but part of the foundations podcast is that we get a flavour of something to inspire us for the day and we begin to think about how we can take that inspiration into our day – even better, that we might be able to respond to something that we think God might be asking us to do.
So here is a suggestion of how we can respond to this idea that we are SO LOVED. Give something away to someone today.
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.
We will never repay such a gift, and we are never expected to. It is a gift. But it was costly. How and where can we give something away today that might bring a blessing to someone else’s life?
We can all ask God to fill us with his Holy Spirit and lead us to be generous with our lives today. Perhaps someone might come to mind, a loved one or a friend you could buy a bunch of flowers. Let’s pray… and ask God for names of people it would be great to remind they are loved today. And pray that in our generous act of love and kindness it reflects something of this extravagant love of God.
Father, thank you that you so loved me that you gave your one and only Son. What are you wanting to tell me today? May our ears be open to your voice. In Jesus name. Amen.
READING: John 3:1-21
Now there was a Pharisee, a man named Nicodemus who was a member of the Jewish ruling council. He came to Jesus at night and said, ‘Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the signs you are doing if God were not with him.’
Jesus replied, ‘Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.’
‘How can someone be born when they are old?’ Nicodemus asked. ‘Surely they cannot enter a second time into their mother’s womb to be born!’
Jesus answered, ‘Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, “You must be born again.” The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.’
‘How can this be?’ Nicodemus asked.
‘You are Israel’s teacher,’ said Jesus, ‘and do you not understand these things? Very truly I tell you, we speak of what we know, and we testify to what we have seen, but still you people do not accept our testimony. I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things? No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven – the Son of Man. Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.’
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. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 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. This is the verdict: light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. 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.