“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.”
~John 3:16 (NRSV)
What is undoubtedly the most well-known of biblical verses packs a mean punch as a throwaway line or a sensitively placed tract. Indeed, as we carry the gospel-essence around with us in our heads, such a sentence of 27 English words has the power to transform a single heart—the eternal soul of the living human being, both here and to come.
As we ponder what that sentence means we are able to find fresh nuances of understanding each day. But surely it speaks at least of suffering and victory.
The Suffering of God and of Those Who Follow Jesus
“Being one with Christ also means that we will suffer.”
~Millard J. Erickson
“God so loved the world” to not save his own Son from indistinguishable shame, pain, and pitiable lack of acclaim—whilst he lived. In several locations of the Bible, for instance Hebrews 12:1-3, we gain glimpses of Jesus’ resident power to endure unimaginable pain.
If they persecuted Jesus, they, too, will persecute us (John 15:20).
We cannot be Christian, or rather human, without knowing the intimacy of suffering; that is, to know it uniquely, and at visceral accord, yet commonly as humans feel it.
It helps to accept that we will suffer—indeed, that, due Jesus, it is right to suffer, and to suffer well, in order to enjoy, because of that suffering, a foretaste of the otherness of eternity—for there is no unjust suffering where we’re destined.
The Victory of God and of Those Who Follow Jesus
Paradoxical is the nature of the Word of Wisdom known by God. Where there is blessing there must, also, be the presence of cursing—our choice of one or the other by eternal decree.
The interesting thing is that by associating in the name of Jesus, by being known by him in situation and nature, we will not only suffer many defeats we will enjoy many victories, and the ultimate victory.
It is a tremendous encouragement for us to know that if we have died with Jesus, we will also live with him; if we endure through him, we will also reign with him (2 Timothy 2:11-12).
It is the destiny of humankind to belong to the Lord. And as we suffer as an aftertaste of how Jesus somehow suffered, we also will share the spoils of victory with him, now and in eternity.
Meditating over what the Father gave in order to save each one of us is compensation, more than enough, for the present trials we endure. We truly have no sensible understanding of how good a fact it is to be reborn in the Spirit. 50,000 days continual meditation over such a fact could not diminish it.
© 2011 S. J. Wickham.