Pondering today on John 3:16-17. I must preface this pondering with this…there are many thoughts and ideas dancing in my head as I begin to write this. Thoughts and ideas that may stir debate, doctrinal defensiveness and even outrage. Thoughts and ideas I never thought I would entertain. PLEASE DO NOT DEBATE OR PREACH ON THIS POST! My ponderings are simply that…ponderings. Questions, thoughts, open and transparent dialogue between a daughter and her Father, a creation and her creator. A quest for truth from God and not from man and answers that are free from religious tradition and bias. Maybe my ponderings will bring you peace and maybe they will bring you anger…those responses are for you to ponder on your own.
Here we go. John 3:16-17 as translated by the NASB translators.
“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.”
This is the most quoted of all the scriptures but what does it REALLY mean? Seems straight forward but it is anything but clear. I began to research this scripture and was blown away at how complex the process was. I found “experts” that believe everything from “it was not part of the original manuscripts”, “it was originally a side note”, all the way to “it’s proof that God is not real and constantly contradicts himself”. So after reading many biblical experts, Greek translation experts, historians and theologians views… I walked away so utterly confused about this most often quoted scripture.
What strikes me the most is this … these words are used by some to share a God that has overwhelming love for all the world AND it is used by others to bring fear and punishment to those who don’t know of this God. Is this verse “good news” for all people or “good news” only for those who believe it?
Here’s the thing…we do not have John sitting next to us to inquire of. John, did you mean that God loved all people? or God loved those who believed? or God just simply IS love? You see, the reason there are so many answers to the same question is because we don’t have the original letter. We have TRANSLATIONS of ancient writings. We have translations that differ from each other because the translators brought their limited knowledge, experiences and cultures to the translation process AND even more importantly, they translated other translations…not an original handwritten letter from John. We also have a huge gap in language and historical context.
So with all this truth mixed in with error ….what do we make of this most popular verse of scripture?
We get quiet with our Father. We block out all the differing opinions, the teachings we have heard from others and “expert” voices. We wait on HIS answers.
I will share what I believe He spoke to MY heart regarding these verses and what I believe His message is to humanity. This is a heart to heart conversation that I am letting you in on …not a theology to be proven or debated.
My heart’s translation of John 3:16-17.
I love you Wendy. I love you and ALL my creation with a love that is beyond your comprehension. This love I have for all people I have created is displayed perfectly in my son, Jesus. He is the exact representation of me and you can trust that what you see Him do, is what I do. His love and acceptance of people in all walks of life is my love and acceptance. His passion to tell people they are his friend is my passion. His compassion and gentleness with those who have lost their way is my compassion and gentleness. His heartbreak over the pharisees misleading and misrepresentation of my love message is my heartbreak. His healing hand to those who are sick and hurting is my healing hand.
Wendy, there are people who don’t believe I love them. They have either never heard of my love or they have believed lies about who I really am. They don’t know about Jesus and the love I displayed through Him. Because they don’t know of my love, they are hurting, they are hopeless, they are slowly dying inside. They are searching for something to save them from fear and loneliness. If they only knew and believed how much I love them, they would start to see things differently, they would really start to live this abundant life I have in store for them.
Share my heart with them! I want them to know I love them! One day they will see me face to face and look into my eyes and believe that I have always loved them unconditionally but my desire is that they all would know of my love now, while in this temporal physical life too. I came to rescue them from fear and hopelessness. I came to silence the lies they have believed. I came so that they can stop beating themselves and each other up. I came to show them that they are valued, treasured and loved. I came so they can have abundant life in the here and now. I didn’t come to judge them or make them feel bad about themselves. I didn’t come to beat them over the head with their failures. I came with open arms that long to embrace them and hold them.
Don’t get tangled in theological and doctrinal weeds my friends. Run free in the wide open spaces of His love. Happy Sunday and happy pondering.