God loves you in this way.
Ken Sundet Jones on the incarnate resonance of John 3:16.
At this point, John 3:16 is so commonplace that it’s almost cliché to talk about how commonplace it is. “For God so loved the world,” the familiar locution runs, “that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” This statement from Jesus’s twilight chit-chat with Nicodemus is easily the most famous verse in all of Scripture. It endures as the centerpiece in all manner of media and messages, from kindergarten Bible lessons to sporting event poster-board signs. But despite its ubiquity, I think we often miss what Jesus is saying. Perhaps not entirely, but, at least, mostly. Leave it to Grand View University theology and philosophy professor — and friend — Ken Sundet Jones to communicate effectively the thrust of Jesus’s words. Ken writes:
In the immediately preceding verses (John 3:14–15), Jesus points to God's care for the Israelites in the wilderness by providing a bronze serpent to be lifted up. God gives not an idea but an actual thing to rescue them from a deadly asp invasion. “So loved,” then, isn’t about how much but instead simply how. The Greek word John uses that we translate as “so” is “outos” (pronounced hoo-toes), which means “in this way” or “thus.”
God loves you in this way: not by remaining a far-off pie-in-the-sky in the sweet-by-and-by fever dream of a god who might or might not love you, or by being an idea of a supreme sovereign who rules from on high, or even by being a wielder of justice. No, God loves you by invading your dimwit life of lifting yourself up as your preferred solution to the world’s problems. God comes bursting as the real thing, as a living, breathing cruci-fiable body.
If God comes to you so embodied that he can be lifted up on Golgotha like the desert serpents, you no longer need to wonder what God might be up to in your own darkest nights of the soul. Here he is. In this particular person Jesus of Nazareth, you have the embodiment of God’s love. That means you have a God you can believe in. Jesus lays himself out in a way you can trust him.
The good news which the Teacher from Nazareth disclosed to that inquiring Pharisee was, in fact, the greatest news of all. It was the announcement that God had taken on flesh in order to rescue sin-bitten sinners from sure and certain death. He didn’t come to damn, he came to deliver. He came to put skin and bone to the love of God. He came to show you and me and the whole world the way in which the Creator of all loves his creatures, viz., by being made “like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people” (Heb. 2:17). May you find blessing in reading the rest of Ken’s article. And may your heart be filled with all the fullness of the love of God in Christ Jesus.
Grace, peace, and love to you, my friends.
That's really good Brad. I recently tried to expound John 3 and it is shockingly difficult for something that we assume that we know, I have sorta regrouped to try again later.