“God so loved the world that he gave his only-begotten Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.”

The last portion of the dialogue between Jesus and Nicodemus is presented (Jn 3:16-21).  It starts out with what is likely the most well-known Bible reference today, John 3:16 (above).  Jesus goes on to say that the Son of God will not condemn those who believe in Him, but those who do not believe, preferring darkness, have condemned themselves.  The Son is the light of the world.  Those who do evil do not approach the light, keeping their evil ways in darkness; whereas those living in truth have no compunction about coming into the light.  The “Jn 3:16” placard is prevalent at sporting events and large gatherings.  When it prompts someone to actually look up the passage, a great service is being done to the seeker.  Hopefully such an entry into the Bible leads that person to read more and more and to be open to the promptings of the Holy Spirit.  The message of v. 16 is powerful, but one needs to read only to v. 20 to come to understand what “belief” really is.  True belief in Jesus means adhering to His message by giving up one’s sinful and evil ways.  What sort of belief is it that pays lip service to Jesus while ignoring his commands (cf. Is 29:13 and Mt 15:8)?  After all, even v. 16 says that belief in Jesus entails confessing Him as Son of God, that is, one equal to God (cf. Jn 10:33).  A person who has not been exposed to Divine Revelation or has not been brought up solidly in Christian faith has an excuse, at least initially, for failing to adhere to Jesus’ teaching: ignorance.  What is our excuse?  Why do we continue sinful habits and evil deeds when we have the benefits of knowing Christ well in Word and Sacrament.  Going back often to these verses — at least every time we are reminded by some spectator of the opening line — seems to be a good opportunity to re-evaluate our relationship with Christ.

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