This well-known verse from the Bible has drawn praise and also has been held up to ridicule and mockery. Yet it captures the truth of the way God wishes to be seen and known through the love of the Son. We could call this verse a calling card for the divine life—a message sent to each of us. God wants to be known by the overwhelming reality of divine love. God gives—this is the deepest truth of God’s life and our life. God gives us life, and God gives God’s own life to redeem our lives.
The grievous error some have made when reading this verse is to imagine that God gave us someone other than God’s own self in Jesus Christ—that God sat back and tossed the Son of God into our world and into our plight. Nothing could be further from the truth. God gave God’s own life to us. God became human to take hold of our life. From the position of a deep and intimate embrace, God takes hold of us. This message is yet to be heard fully by people: a God who saves us by embrace, who heals us by word and touch, and whose love is so deep and intense that it overcomes the power of death.
To say that God loves us can seem trite and a slogan unless we understand the story of Jesus Christ, who has made God’s love real. God’s only Son is yet with us through the Holy Spirit, seeking to convince us of God’s love. God’s love draws us from death to life, but to know its full reality requires that we focus on the Son of God, who came to us and still comes to us when we believe on his name.
Loving God, reveal your love to me this day through your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen.
Sometimes we get ourselves into trouble by our words and actions. It’s okay to admit it. It happens to all of us. The Israelites experienced this when their constant grumbling provoked God’s wrath in Numbers 21. Yet even in this story, God provides the means of salvation. The psalmist echoes the refrain that when we put ourselves in bad positions, we may cry out to the Lord for deliverance. We read in Ephesians that all of us were living in disobedience to God, but God has done all the work of reconciliation by grace given through Christ Jesus. John ties all this together, gesturing to the story in Numbers 21 to teach us that Christ is the means of restoration and salvation for all who believe in him.
• Read Numbers 21:4-9. When has your complaining distorted your sense of reality? How do you maintain a sense of God’s presence?
• Read Psalm 107:1-3, 17-22. Consider implementing a practice of rising from sleep to give God thanks and to call to mind the many ways God works in your life.
• Read Ephesians 2:1-10. Does your sense of God’s salvation engender a sense of grace within you and a desire to do good? Why or why not?
• Read John 3:14-21. Do you consider yourself a creature of light or darkness? Why?
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