Thursday, August 7, 2014
August 6 – A one-of-a-kind Son
For this is the way God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world should be saved through him. The one who believes in him is not condemned. The one who does not believe has been condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the one and only Son of God. (John 3:16-18 NET)
This is probably the most well known promise of the Bible, along with Psalm 23 — a powerful, compact summary of the gospel that is the basis for our belief in God. It is a passage that comforts the saved, warns the lost, offers indisputable proof of God’s love for humanity, and teaches that God’s aim is to offer eternal life not condemnation. Though many of us know this verse by heart, these concepts are so deep and life changing that we need to periodically return to them for comfort and strength.
Some versions of the Bible offer a misleading translation of this verse that reads “only begotten Son”, which makes it seem as though at some time in the ancient past the Father gave birth to the Son, which is wrong. “One and only Son” is a much clearer translation, but we could also think of Jesus as unique, or one-of-a-kind. Isaac is similarly referred to as Abraham’s only son, when in fact Ishmael was born before Isaac, and another six sons followed after Sarah’s death, but we know that Isaac was the son of the promise, the only son of Sarah, and so he was one-of-a-kind. Though we are all God’s children when we believe in Him (a belief that is followed by obedience and the new birth), we are not God’s sons and daughters in the sense that Jesus is. He is the Son, but both He and the Father and the Spirit are eternal; they had no beginning and will have no end; they have always existed and will always exist. This doesn’t make sense to our finite minds because everything we know has a beginning and an end, but that shouldn’t worry us because if God really is God and we are His creation, it makes sense that we would not have the capacity to completely understand Him, just like a lump of clay cannot comprehend what goes through the mind of the potter that is shaping it. In fact, the thought that we cannot comprehend God is comforting.
This promise is proof of God’s limitless love for us. If we believe that Jesus died on Calvary, we cannot question God’s love. Only someone with a supreme level of love, compassion, and intelligence would be able to do such a thing. Though He was holy and perfect, and we were sinful and flawed, the father still had His Son go through with His sacrifice because he knew it was the only way any of us could be saved. The penalty for our sins was death, and so Jesus suffer the death penalty on our behalf in order to set us free and give us authority over the devil. Only God could come up with such an amazing plan.
Now each one of us has a choice to make. Throughout the Gospel of John, the author presents choices, and here he contrasts death and eternal life, being saved and being condemned. The choice is ours. God will not save everyone because he has given us free will to choose the life that we want to live. If we choose to surrender our lives to Him, we will be saved, but if we choose to live for ourselves, we will be lost forever. God wants us to be saved, wants it so badly that He allowed Jesus to die in our place, but He will not force anyone’s choice. Let’s choose well, and help others to do the same.