Short Meditations in John 3: 16. Not for Condemnation
Jn 3:17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.
Guilt and shame do terrible things in us. They make us defensive and they pull us down. They demean us and strip us of power to live. They make us want to hide away – and especially from God. And the terrible thing is that deep down every one of us knows we are a sinner. We may adopt strategies to cover ourselves up but essentially we feel naked. We struggle to achieve. We see it all the time in society. It goes from the young woman with low self esteem who has a baby as the only means of creating a sense of meaning, purpose and fulfilment, to the small man who was mocked when he was young, who now drives himself to create a business empire where he is a ‘somebody’. “All have sinned.” (Rom 3:23a) we know it.
Inadequacy, not being what we would love to be, what we envy in others, what we sense we could be, if only… We wish we came from a better background, we wish we had been better educated, we wish learning came more easily, we wish we could be successful, we wish we were more handsome or pretty. Incapable, struggling to overcome bad habits, bad attitudes, finding our mouths blurt out things which we immediately regret. Not being what we wish we could be. “And fall short of the glory of God” (Rom 3:23b) or “and fall short of what we know we could be in God’s design.”
And so we have these mixes of guilt, shame, inadequacy, incapability and they pull us down and make us little people, unrighteous people, unholy people, sinners – and we wish it could be different, but God is big, God is holy, God looks for spiritual giants, God is there to condemn us, surely.
But that is not what Jesus or John think: “God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world.” The world is us. God knew what we were like, He knew all the things above and He still sent Jesus. But that isn’t strictly accurate, the way I have just put it. He sent Jesus BECAUSE we are like that. He’s come to rescue us not condemn us, he’s come to save us not slay us.
That’s the ultimate for God: “to save the world through him.” Salvation comes only through Jesus Christ, the Son of God who died for our sins and for our salvation. It is “through him”, through Christ; there is no other way, no other method, no other strategy that you can find in the whole world that does this, that forgives sin because the punishment for sin has been taken, that forgives sinners, cleanses sinners, adopts redeemed sinners as children of God and empowers them with the very presence of God – all because of what Jesus has done!