For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. (John 3:17-18)
We have been looking at the discussion between Jesus and Israel’s chief Rabbi, Nicodemus, on the subject of entry into the Kingdom of God. The only possibility, according to Jesus, is by the “new birth”, being “born from above”. Man is a sinner indeed and needs forgiveness, but he has a deeper need yet, because he is spiritually dead.
Sinful, fallen, estranged and ruined man can and must be born again! Without a spiritual resurrection, man is dead to God. He has no capacity to perceive, fellowship, or to receive anything from God. But a man cannot manufacture a “new birth”. It is solely a work of God.
The new birth is the gift of God, performed by the Holy Spirit of God. Sinful man has been qualified for this gift by the sending of the Son of God from heaven, to be the sin offering for us. “For God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten Son…” .
There is so much rich theology in these spare, simple verses. For example, we can behold the Godhead in this revelation. It was the Father, who sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world. Before anything else was, God has always been. One God, but in three persons, Father Son and Holy Spirit.
The Eternal Father sent the Eternal Son out of love for the fallen rebellious world.. The Son is ever lovingly subordinate to the Father, living to please and Honor the Father. The Spirit ever proceeds from the Father and Son, honoring the Son.
Then answered Jesus and said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise. For the Father loveth the Son, and sheweth him all things that himself doeth: and he will shew him greater works than these, that ye may marvel.(John 5:19-20)
That the Son of God was sent into the world, is a profound mystery. We cannot understand it, we can only worshipfully receive the revelation, with lowly awe. From before the world, The Father sent the Son and the Son was ever willing to come…
Wherefore when he cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me: In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin thou hast had no pleasure. Then said I, Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me,) to do thy will, O God.(Hebrews 10:5-7)
No one else could say that they “came into this world”in any other sense than that they were born here at some point in time. But the Son was sent here,(from heaven). He who was from of old, whose habitation was in eternity, in constant communion with the Father, the original gardener from Eden, the ultimate Bridegroom, actually entered into this world.
He condescended from an infinite height to come unto us. He came down to us. Why did the Son have to come down? Because we who are fallen are so bankrupt and dead, that thee would be no other way for us to ever get up to heaven. The Father sent the Son into the world.
But now we read the motive, as well as the negative of the motive, for here we are told that the Son was not sent to condemn the world, but to save it.
Why does he have to tell us that Jesus wasn’t sent to condemn the world? Shouldn’t that be obvious?
As a matter of fact, Jesus tells us this because it would be easy to think, that indeed Jesus did come to condemn the world, but that wouldn’t be true. The message Jesus brings to the rebellious , God hating world, does sound condemning. For example…
For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.(Matthew 5:20)
Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat:Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.(Matthew 7:13-14)
There were present at that season some that told him of the Galilaeans, whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices.And Jesus answering said unto them, Suppose ye that these Galilaeans were sinners above all the Galilaeans, because they suffered such things? I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish. Or those eighteen, upon whom the tower in Siloam fell, and slew them, think ye that they were sinners above all men that dwelt in Jerusalem? I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.(Luke 13:1-5)
Jesus spent a lot of time warning sinners about the certainty of judgment, Hell, the regret, the agony, “Weeping and gnashing of teeth”. He also spent much of his ministry and teaching showing men that they are sinners, exposing hypocrisy, teaching the true meaning of the ten commandments, convicting men of the danger they are in for breaking them.
I once told a person I was witnessing to, that Jesus spoke far more about heaven than he did hell. (I was sure I was right, it seemed right that Jesus would always be ‘positive’). But I had a thought to check my facts out, so I started counting in Matthew,all of the verses which spoke of heaven and comparing those to the number of verses speaking of hell. I quit about halfway through, because it was so lop-sided in favor of hell, I felt foolish!
I see why people could get the impression that Jesus came to condemn the world. When you think about it, much of Jesus preaching is condemning to the world. I am speaking of the real content of the words of Jesus in the Gospels, not the modern “psychological Jesus” or the popular “positive thinking Jesus’ or the ‘new age Jesus’.
Look at the words of the real Jesus, and see the penetrating conviction, the utter condemnation of all men, the warnings against self righteousness, and the inadequacey of religious observance. Actually it can be quite frightening.
But the Father didn’t send the Son to condemn the world, Jesus came to save the world! We would say similarly of a skilled doctor who was cancer specialist, that he was not trained, educated and hired by a medical center to scare people, although his diagnosis probably does just that. The idea is to heal them.
But first they must know that they are sick and need radical treatment!
The Father Loves the world, in spite of its profound sin, its God hatred, its pride, and arrogance. God loves men, and doesn’t want any to perish, but all to come to the saving knowledge of the Son. To “believe on the name of the Son of God”, is nothing less than to believe in Jesus, who He is and what He did for us, to accept him, and to enter fully into the new birth He offers. This is why Jesus came to us, this is why the Father sent him.