Reflections on John 3:16-18 Part 3


The Bible in Your life and Your Life in the Bible

" 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 3:15)


In reply to the question “Are you the one who is to come, or are we to wait for another?” Jesus said:

“Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have good news brought to them. And blessed is anyone who takes no offense at me.” (Matt. 11:3-6)
Those who have created for themselves the fortress of hell described above are the spiritually blind, lame, deaf, dead of today, imprisoned in secularism, materialism, self. He came precisely for those who are enclosed in this hell of their own creation.

If you are in that hellish fortress he can and will make you free too. All he needs is for you to stretch out your hand through the bars of that prison where life has never penetrated. He can replace that fortress of death with the fortress of life

I say to the Lord, “You are my place of safety, my fortress. My God, I trust in you.” (Psalm 91:2)
Today you, too, can be with him in Paradise (Luke 23:43) or this day you can remain in the hell of your own creation. “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish ...”. He is your way out “I am the way”, he is your life “I am … the life” (John 14:6)

God is love (1 John 4:8), the source of love. Human love, magnificent as it is, if it is not nourished by the source of love, is like a branch recently torn away from a tree. It may still seem green and fresh but will soon shows signs of decay and death; it is just a question of time. “Those who believe in him are not condemned; but those who do not believe are condemned already”, we condemn ourselves to eternal death when we utter that ‘no’ to life. Faith is a gift from God, this is true. But it is a gift given to everyone, God wants all to be saved (1 Timothy 2:4, 2 Peter 3:9). Let no one blame God for his unbelief and say I have not been given the gift. The gift of love is there on the cross and the power to accept that gift that comes from the Holy Spirit is denied no one. Do not say you have not got the gift. If this is the way you think you will never have it because you will be waiting for something that has already been given you. The miracle of acceptance happens when you finally become aware that you need it and yearn for it, when you are ready and attentive to the motions of the Holy Spirit who will enable you to accept that gift. When “deep calls out to deep” (Psalm 42:7), it is then that things happen. When you are prepared to remove the roof of a house to have access to Jesus, then the miracle will take place:
Then some people came, bringing to him a paralysed man, carried by four of them. And when they could not bring him to Jesus because of the crowd, they removed the roof above him; and after having dug through it, they let down the mat on which the paralytic lay. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, ‘Son, your sins are forgiven.’ .... ‘I say to you, stand up, take your mat and go to your home.’ (Mark 2:3-11)
Remove the roof of that fortress you have constructed, gaze upwards and he will also say to you, stand up, leave that fortress that you have built around yourself and go to your real home where you will find the Father running towards you ready to celebrate your return (Luke 15:20-24)
“ Listen! I am standing at the door, knocking; if you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in to you and eat with you, and you with me.” (Rev. 3:20).
Listen, hear and open! That is what we are invited to do and when that happens the love feast begins.

A fine example of accepting and receiving can be seen in the healing of the man with the withered hand. Jesus told him to stretch out his hand. That request must have seemed absurd to say the least. Have you ever seen a man with a withered hand? It is so twisted that it cannot physically be stretched out. It was an impossible request! The man could easily have said I haven’t got the gift of a normal hand to stretch out! What do you mean stretch out your hand? If he had said that the miracle would never have taken place. Instead he did stretch out that hand that could not be stretched! The miracle takes place at the very same time as the action of reaching out in faith takes place.

The dynamic of the miracle of the withered hand is operative here, too. Let us recognize our withered selves, our inability to say ‘yes’ but also our need to say ‘yes’. Let us not say we haven’t got the gift of faith, but instead “ here I am Lord, I am yours” with our whole withered self, spirit, soul and body and we shall find ourselves in the embrace of those outstretched arms on the cross before you even finish the sentence. He yearns to embrace you, he yearns to share with you his peace, his joy, his happiness, his life, in a word his salvation earned for you on the cross. Do you want to receive it? Do you yearn to receive it? That is the question. Do not say I have not been given the gift. Do not put the blame on God who has already given the gift so that you may already receive it. The choice is yours and yours alone. The responsibility is yours and yours alone.

God accepts that choice of those who choose to go it alone. He lets man go his way, he gives him up to whatever way he has chosen (Romans 1: 24, 26). But man is alone, terribly alone, imprisoned in his ‘no’ uttered often so lightly and sometimes so aggressively.

Is it any wonder why so many relationships end up shipwrecked on the rocks? The source of stability is absent; the life-giving sap is missing. It is the love of God that binds everything together, nothing else, absolutely nothing else.

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