May 21: So Loved

Read John 3:1-21

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (v. 16).

The song writer expressed it well: “The love of God is greater far, than tongue or pen can ever tell . . .”

In one of the most famous of Christ’s many encounters with others, a respected first-century Pharisee named Nicodemus came face to face with that love. Compelled perhaps by fear, Nicodemus came by night. He probably didn’t want others to see him. Propelled by curiosity, he came nonetheless. Based on what he had seen and heard, he couldn’t not come.

But what he heard confused him. “How can a man be born when he is old?” Nicodemus needed to understand more about spiritual rebirth. “How can these things be?” Nicodemus needed to understand more about the work of the Holy Spirit.

Thankfully, Jesus simplified the message so that centuries later even you and I can understand it. He expressed it in terms of love, the likes of which we find nowhere else. It is universal love that God has for all the people of the world and yet personal enough to touch you and touch me. It is sacrificial love that caused the Father to give His Son as He humbly became man (Jn. 1:14). And yet deeper still it caused Him to become sin for us (2 Cor. 5:21). It is rescuing love that saves people from perishing and is extended to everyone but is applied exclusively to those who believe so that they are spared condemnation.

And the love that Nicodemus learned of that day seems to have transformed him. Three years and sixteen chapters later, he was one of two men who gently honored the Lord by taking his body from Golgotha. Together with Joseph, Nicodemus did at least a preliminary, first-century version of embalming and placed his body in the tomb (Jn. 19:38-42). But love conquered even the tomb.

“Could we with ink the ocean fill, and were the skies of parchment made; were every stalk on earth a quill, and every man a scribe by trade; to write the love of God above would drain the ocean dry. Nor could the scroll contain the whole, though stretched from sky to sky.”  (The Love of God by F.M. Lehman; Source: http://www.hymnal.net/hymn.php/h/28#ixzz2HNjVVorN)

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