For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life. Indeed, 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 3:16-17 NRSV
Sorry about the interruption! Last week was fairly hectic in my life. Although I wrote this in my head, it never got to the computer. From now until June, I am not sure I can get these posts up every day. But watch out after June 1!
These two verses are part of a longer teaching that Jesus gives to Nicodemus who has come to him in secret. This is not the last time Nicodemus will appear in the gospel of John but the end of this teaching is followed by the detail that Jesus and the disciples leave the city and go into the countryside. Because of this, I am assuming that this teaching was not accepted by Nic. As a leader of the Pharisees and an expert on the law and religion, he probably did not receive these two verses at all well. Nicodemus already had quite a misunderstanding of being reborn, to which Jesus responds by basically saying Nicodemus is not as much in the know as he would like to think (see verses 7-10). In fact, Nicodemus seems prone to arguing but this could be the way rabbis often discussed. Now Jesus says that he is God's son which was a clear statement of blasphemy.
We have become so accustomed to calling Jesus God's son, it does not sounds so improbable to our ears. However, later in chapter 18, Jesus says that he has always taught in public and has never said anything in private which makes me wonder if this whole conversation with Nicodemus really did result in his execution. I also find it interesting that this gospel doesn't report what went on in Caiaphas' home. What was the real reason for this secret visit? Was Nicodemus sent to trap Jesus? Was Caiaphas aware of this conversation and used it against him? I wonder if Nicodemus did what he did to trick Jesus, then reported him but later felt guilty of what he had done and helped to bury him.
These verses that have had the power to give life to so many, may have just been the same words that condemned Jesus to death on a cross. And that too has truly given all of us new life!
God, sometimes the most well-known words from the Bible have more power and meaning than we are aware of. Forgive us for what we do not see. In Jesus' name. Amen.
Copyright 2009 Amelia G. Sims