John 3:14-21 (NRSV)
Verse 14And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, Verse 15that whoever believes in him may have eternal life. Verse 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. Verse 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. Verse 18Those 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. Verse 19And this is the judgment, that the light has come into the world, and people loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil. Verse 20For all who do evil hate the light and do not come to the light, so that their deeds may not be exposed. Verse 21But 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."
Our gospel reading speaks not only of divine love, but also of divine judgment—a topic that many of us would rather ignore. But these two aspects of God’s activity are not as contradictory as they may first appear. Because Jesus embodies God’s love and offers God’s life to a dying world, to reject Jesus is to cut oneself off from the very source of life and remain in the realm of death. This separation from God is what it means to experience judgment.
The good news is that Jesus offers true life freely and equally to all people; the light he shines brings judgment upon all forms of darkness that would rob us of this life. God’s love is too great to allow hatred, violence, selfishness, and divisiveness to go unchecked. Divine judgment of these realities is, in the end, a reflection of divine love.
God of justice, expose the forces in our lives and world that do not align with your loving purposes. May the light of Christ lead us in your ways. Amen.