“… is condemned already”
Today, we have one of the best known verses in the Bible in our reading in John 3. But sometimes verses which are well known can lose their power to influence our thinking through over familiarity. It is verse 16 that is well known,
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life”.
We have sometimes deliberately misquoted this by leaving out the words, ‘not perish, but’ and those listening have usually struggled to think of what words we have omitted when we tell them we have omitted three words – and asked what they were! Jesus is saying what the alternative is – if we fail to believe.
The ESV footnote suggests a slightly different way of translating this verse from the Greek:
“For this is how God loved the world …”.
See the point? He “gave his only Son” to show his love – and the challenge to us is whether we will meaningfully respond to the awesomeness of the sacrifice that Jesus made on the wooden stake – for us. How are we showing our reaction? Our humbled heartfelt appreciation?!
We show whether we really believe in something – by what we do, by the difference it makes to our lives. Consider carefully what John next writes,
“Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God”. John then adds, “and people loved darkness rather than the light because their deeds were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest their deeds should be exposed” (verses 18-20).
The world today is overflowing with examples of this. We will read in chapter 8 that Jesus said,
“whoever commits sin is a slave of sin” (verse 34)
and today the world is full of willing slaves, they are not necessarily evil in a bad sense, but no thought of God is in their minds. Looking back at today’s chapter we see that Jesus also said,
“He who is of the earth belongs to the earth and speaks in an earthly way” (verse 31).
There is no middle way, so let us make a greater effort to respond to the love of God in sending his Son into the world to light up the darkness. Let you and I realize more fully the ultimate meaningless of a life that lacks the eternal purpose and future that God offers to us. Notice our word “ultimate! But if this life is all you desire, so be it, but realize, you are “condemned already” and your life will, in the future, be a forgotten event of history.