No one has gone up to heaven except the one who came down from heaven, the Human One. Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so must the Human One be lifted up so that everyone who believes in him will have eternal life. God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him won’t perish but will have eternal life. God didn’t send his Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through him. (John 3:13-17, CEB)
We have all seen the signs at sporting events and other gathers.
We all know John 3:16. For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. My version here is a little different than above because I typed this from memory. A mix of NRSV, KJV, and others. Which is really what we all do with this verse. But honesty I do not think John 3:16 is the most important verse out of the lectionary passage above.
When I have classes on the passage I always ask for people to say 3:16 from memory and then after someone does I ask if anyone can do 3:17 from memory. 3:17 is way more important in my thinking than 3:16. Now don’t get me wrong, 3:16 is important, especially when we look at the language. ἠγάπησεν – Agape is in the third person aorist active indicative. This means it was an action that happened at one point in the past and has reoccurring influence on the future forever. At one point in the past God so loved the world and that love continues forever. So that is pretty important. But I digress. Do you know John 3:17 without looking above?
For God did not send his son into the world to condemn the world but that the world might be saved through him. And again my version is a little different as it is from memory and a mash-up of NRSV, KJV, and others. And something else about this passage, the might is not in the Greek. The Greek says, “οὐ γὰρ ἀπέστειλεν ὁ θεὸς τὸν υἱὸν εἰς τὸν κόσμον ἵνα κρίνῃ τὸν κόσμον, ἀλλ’ ἵνα σωθῇ ὁ κόσμος δι’ αὐτοῦ.” Literally, this is “not for sent the God the son into the world in order to condemn the world but in order to save the world through him.” Or in more proper English, For God did not send the Son into the world in order to condemn the world but in order to save the world through him.
God loved the world at one point in the past so much that God sent Jesus and God sent Jesus not to judge and condemn but to liberate the world. Not to judge or condemn but to love and liberate.
That is really what we all should do.
Loving People. Loving God.