In part two of this week's gospel reading (17-21) our
"Why?" meets another "Because" (17) that balances and
reinforces part one. It is an answer every bit as powerful
as that of John 3:16: God did not send the Son into the
world in order to sit in judgment, but in order to save the
world. The purpose of Jesus' journey to the cross, and of
our Lenten journey, is for us to discover this truth about
the necessity and purpose of God's love. Our Lenten
journey is not about punishment, but about so great a
love that it can inspire us to believe God's promise of life
in Jesus Christ our Lord.
It is hard for us to believe that promise, because we are
programmed to expect the worst. The reading speaks of
it as the "crisis" of faith (deciding or turning point, NRSV
reads "judgment," verse 19). Even when the light has
come, we seem so often to want to remain in darkness.
But as we follow Christ on this Lenten journey, we are
given the experience that believing and life belong
together. To believe becomes an event, a happening, by
which a new relationship of life can be wrought by the
love of God.
O God of Love, grant us to believe your promise of life in
Christ Jesus our Lord. May our journey to the cross inspire
us with hope to see that your desire for us is not death,
but life. Amen.
John 3:14-21 (NRSV)
14 And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up,
15 that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.
16 "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.
17 "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.
18 Those who believe in him are not condemned; but those who do not believe are condemned already, because they have not believed in the name of the only Son of God.
19 And this is the judgment, that the light has come into the world, and people loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil.
20 For all who do evil hate the light and do not come to the light, so that their deeds may not be exposed.
21 But those who do what is true come to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that their deeds have been done in God."