Scripture: John 3:16-21
16 For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God sent the Son into the world, not to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him. 18 He who believes in him is not condemned; he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has 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 men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. 20 For every one who does evil hates the light, and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. 21 But he who does what is true comes to the light, that it may be clearly seen that his deeds have been wrought in God.
Meditation: Do you know the love which surpasses the greatest joy and happiness which one could ever hope to find? Great love is manifested in the cost and sacrifice of the giver. True lovers hold nothing back but give the best that can be offered to their beloved, including all they possess, even their very lives. God proved his love for us by giving us the best he had to offer - his only begotten Son who freely offered up his life for our sake as the atoning sacrifice for our sin and the sin of the world.
Abraham's willing sacrifice of his only son, Isaac, prefigures the perfect offering and sacrifice of God's beloved Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. This passage in the Gospel of John tells us of the great breadth and width of God's love. Not an excluding love for just a few or for a single nation, but a redemptive love that embraces the whole world, and a personal love for each and every individual whom God has created in his own image and likeness (Genesis 1:26,27). God is the eternal Father of Love who cannot rest until his wandering children have returned home to him. Saint Augustine of Hippo (354-430 AD) said, God loves each one of us as if there were only one of us to love. God gives us the freedom to choose whom and what we will love.
Jesus shows us the paradox of love and judgment. We can love the darkness of sin and unbelief or we can love the light of God's truth, beauty, and goodness. If our love is guided by what is true, and good, and beautiful then we will choose for God and love him above all else. What we love shows what we prefer and value most. Do you love God above all else? Does he take first place in your life, in your thoughts, affections, and actions?
"Lord Jesus Christ, your love is better than life itself. May your love consume and transform my heart with all of its yearnings, aspirations, fears, hurts, and concerns, that I may freely desire you above all else and love all others generously for your sake and for your glory. Make me to love what you love, desire what you desire, and give generously as you have been so generous towards me".
2 My soul makes its boast in the LORD; let
the afflicted hear and be glad.
3 O magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt his name together!
4 I sought the LORD, and he answered me, and delivered me from all my fears.
5 Look to him, and be radiant; so your faces shall never be ashamed.
6 This poor man cried, and the LORD heard him, and saved him out of all his troubles.
7 The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him, and delivers them.
8 O taste and see that the LORD is good! Happy is the man who takes refuge in him!
A Daily Quote from the early church fathers: The Intensity of God's Love and Our Response, by John Chrysostom, 347-407 A.D.
"The text, 'God so loved the world,' shows such an intensity of love. For great indeed and infinite is the distance between the two. The immortal, the infinite majesty without beginning or end loved those who were but dust and ashes, who were loaded with ten thousand sins but remained ungrateful even as they constantly offended him. This is who he 'loved.' For God did not give a servant, or an angel or even an archangel 'but his only begotten Son.' And yet no one would show such anxiety even for his own child as God did for his ungrateful servants..."
"He laid down his life for us and poured forth his precious blood
for our sakes - even though there is nothing good in us - while we
do not even pour out our money for our own sake and neglect him
who died for us when he is naked and a stranger... We put gold
necklaces on ourselves and even on our pets but neglect our Lord
who goes about naked and passes from door to door... He gladly
goes hungry so that you may be fed; naked so that he may provide
you with the materials for a garment of incorruption, yet we will
not even give up any of our own food or clothing for him...
These things I say continually, and I will not cease to say them,
not so much because I care for the poor but because I care for
your souls." (HOMILIES ON THE GOSPEL OF JOHN
from Common Bible: Revised Standard Version of the Bible,
copyright 1973, and Ignatius Edition of the Revised Standard
Version of the Bible, copyright 2006, by the Division of
Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches
of Christ in the United States of America. Used by
permission. All rights reserved. Citation references
for quotes from the writings of the early church fathers can
be found here.
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