Scripture: 17 God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him. [John 3:17 NLT]
I was a senior in high school and trying to express my independence. I was working at Publix and usually worked the closing shift. This meant that I usually left work between 10:30 and 11 p.m. On one particular evening I was leaving work at 11 p.m. and a friend had invited me to come over to a party they were having at their house. On my way home I swung by to see if people were still there and they were. I stopped at the party and may have lost track of time. When I looked down at my watch it was 2:45 a.m. I excused myself in a hurry and began to rush home. I knew my parents were going to be upset. I got home and quietly let myself in the front door. I carefully made my way to my parents' room to get the dog (this was my parents' way of knowing when I came home). As I brought the dog out of their room I thought I might be in the clear. Then I heard my dad’s voice, his deep stern voice, say, “Timothy! What time is it?” I very sheepishly answered, “3 a.m.” My dad replied, “We will talk about this in the morning!”
I didn’t get any sleep the rest of the night. I could only think of all the ways my dad could choose to punish me. I could lose my car, I could be grounded, I could have to do all the work around the house, and the list seemed full of endless possibilities. I was literally a condemned man. There was no way I could see my way out of this one. The only thing I could do was lay awake trying to figure something out. A while later I could hear my parents getting up and ready for work. I wasn’t going out there, that’s for sure. Maybe the whole thing would go away. After a while someone came to the door of my room. It was my mom who wished me a good day at school. Phew! She obviously had not woken up at 3 a.m. Then my dad came to the door. I couldn’t even look at him. Then he said something I did not expect … “Good morning, Son. Have a good day at school.” He had gone back to sleep and did not even remember the exchange he had with me hours before. How awesome is that?
Our Scripture for today paints a picture of a group of people, the world, deserving of condemnation. Just like me as a senior, the world is deep in sin and has done wrong no matter how you slice it. We deserve condemnation. We deserve judgement. We certainly deserve the consequences of our actions. Yet, John 3:16 tells us that God, the Father, loves us so much (even while we are sinners) that God sent his one and only Son so we would not die because of our sin. John goes on in verse 17 to say that the purpose of Jesus was not to condemn us for our actions, but to save us from our actions. Despite the fact that we were condemned by our own sins, Jesus came to save us not condemn us. Jesus brings salvation not condemnation.
There may be some things in your life for which you still feel guilty or even condemned. Hear the good news today from the Apostle Paul, “So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus.” Jesus did not come to condemn you, he came to save you. Today live like someone who is loved enough to be saved and as someone who is free from the power of sin and death. Live today in such a way that inspires others to know that this love and freedom is available to them. You can help lead them to experience God’s grace through a growing relationship with Jesus Christ.
Prayer: Holy God, thank you for loving me so much. Thank you for saving me from my sin and its horrible consequences. Your gift of salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ has saved me. Help me to live today as one who is saved. May your Holy Spirit have free reign to guide and direct me today. In the name of Jesus. Amen.