As I prepare for next week’s Bible study in John’s gospel, I’m reviewing John 3:16-17. It’s a familiar text: “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.
Read it too quickly, and that message of hope and promise doesn’t have the impact it ought to have. At least, that’s what happens to me when I read it too quickly.
However, as I mulled the text in my mind, I suddenly associated it with the message of the Luke 15 parables. You remember them – The Lost Sheep, The Lost Coin, The Lost Son. I especially like verse 4 in the ‘lost sheep’ portion: “What man among you, if he has a hundred sheep and has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open pasture and go after the one which is lost until he finds it?
Do you see the connection? God so loved us, that He sent – and He seeks, until He finds us.
Knowing that truth, my follow-on questions ought to be, “Why does He love us, and why does He seek us”?
The prologue to the Catechism of the Catholic Church has a pretty good answer:
“God, infinitely perfect and blessed in Himself, in a plan of sheer goodness, freely created man to make him share in His own blessed life. For this reason, at every time and in every place, God draws close to man. He calls man to seek Him, to know Him, to love Him with all his strength. He calls together all men, scattered and divided by sin, into the unity of His family, the Church.”
“To accomplish this, when the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son as Redeemer and Savior. In his Son and through Him, [God] invites men to become, in the Holy Spirit, His adopted children and thus heirs of His blessed life.”
I don’t think I’d ever heard it expressed so well.
But, as you know, the Lord Jesus did not stop at verses 16 and 17. Here is what He said next: This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil. For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed.” (John 3:19-20)
Have you ever pondered how the Father heartbreakingly grieves to watch so many of us turn our backs on Him who, in His ‘sheer goodness, freely created us to share forever in His own inexpressibly blessed life?’
I don’t think about that as often as I probably should.
Oh, Lord, please keep me close to Yourself. And I am so grateful to know that when I stray, you seek me until You find me.