- John 3: 16-21
- Ephesians 2: 4-10
For God so loved the world… that over two thousand years ago, Jesus came to this earth in human form to show us what this love truly means. Through his life, his teachings and his example, we find a new way, a better way. He gave what we may consider to be the ultimate sacrifice, his earthly body, in a painful and excruciating death, so that we might receive the gift of Oneness of our spiritual bodies with God, no longer separated but as Children of God. Through this, we might fully understand the meaning of eternal life, as spiritual beings living continually in the presence of God. Not waiting for our earthly death for eternity to start, but recognising that we are already living eternity.
Jesus came and taught us humility, as he lived as a refugee in Egypt as a child, much like Syrian refugees live today in Jordan and Lebanon. Do we treat our refugees any better than we have treated Jesus? How do we treat the refugees from Venezuela? The refugees from Haiti, from Africa? If we imagine that each of these refugees was Jesus, how are we doing?
‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.’ (Matthew 25: 40)
In Matthew 18: 1 we find the disciples discussing «Who really is the greatest in the Kingdom of the heavens?» He calls a child, stands the child in the midst of the disciples and tells them:
“Unless you turn around and become as young children, you will by no means enter into the Kingdom of the heavens. Therefore, whoever will humble himself like this young child is the one who is the greatest in the Kingdom of the heavens; and whoever receives one such young child on the basis of my name receives me also.”—Matthew 18:3-5.
As we consider how we are treating the sojourners and refugees among us, then we known how great we are in the Kingdom! Before the last supper, we find Jesus washing the feet of his disciples.
Because God so loved us… Jesus showed us the importance of reading the Word, as a twelve year old when he read and discussed in the temple the scriptures. Luke 2: 47 says that «all that heard Him were astonished at His understanding and answers.» At twelve years old. He not only was willing to read the Bible allowed in the temple, but to answer questions and explain it. And yet, we seem to struggle each week for participants to read the scriptures aloud in church each Sunday.
Jesus showed us dedication and patience, as he worked as a carpenter, under his father’s tutelage. And yet we reject the authority of our parents, failing to honor our mother and father as we are called to do. We push our way forward for honor and rewards, seeking the limelight, rather than being willing to work in the background.
Because God so loved you… Jesus showed us how to handle the temptations that arise in our day to day lives. Through his temptations of hunger (lust of the body), egoism (misuse of our power) and materialism (kingdoms and wealth) we see what is means to be a child of God, holding fast to that identity, and still standing strong in the knowledge of what that really means. In these temptations, we see the challenge to Jesus: «If you are the Son of God» – are you really a child of God? Prove it.
Through these temptations, we see how the ego wants to use our spiritual power and gifts to satisfy human cravings. This is attempting to turn stones into bread, the attempt to find gratification in using spiritual power to satisfy human, personal desires.And yet, Jesus shows us the better and higher way. Are you fully secure in your identity as a child of God? Can you, like Jesus, respond: «It is written»? Our human nature wants to demonstrate prosperity and success or healing and «prove» that it works. We think some outer achievement will make us happy and successful. But Jesus teaches us a higher way: «Seek ye first the kingdom of God.»
Most importantly, Jesus showed us what it really means to have a relationship with God, to have the indwelling of the Spirit. Jesus showed us, in his every day living and loving, what it means to truly be One with God the Father.
John 14: 4-7 promise us:
4 Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.
…7 If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.
We are reminded of this again in John 17: 21-23
As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 … so that they may be one, as we are one, 23 I in them and you in me, that they may become completely one, so that the world may know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.
For God so loved the World that he sent us Jesus… who taught us what it means to be a child of God (as each one of us has already been called to be). Paul says in Colossians 2:9 «For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form.» The Message says «Everything of God gets expressed in him, so that you can see and hear God clearly».» Are you living out your life as a son or daughter of God? Is every quality of God fully expressed in your life and living and loving?
Psalm 82: 6 says in a stunning way:
You are gods, And all of you are sons of the Most High.
The same calling to greatness and Oneness with God that Jesus had, each of us has. To be the Son of God is to be of the same nature as God. The Son of God is “of God.” We were created by God, in God’s image, to do God’s will on this earth. And God so loved each one of us, as sons and daughters, that God sent us Jesus to show us the way home.
Jesus reminds us of this in John 10: 33-38:
33 The Jews answered, “It is not for a good work that we are going to stone you, but for blasphemy, because you, though only a human being, are making yourself God.”
34 Jesus answered, “Is it not written in your law, ‘I said, you are gods’? 35 If those to whom the word of God came were called ‘gods’—and the scripture cannot be annulled— 36 can you say that the one whom the Father has sanctified and sent into the world is blaspheming because I said, ‘I am God’s Son’? 37 If I am not doing the works of my Father, then do not believe me. 38 … know and understand that the Father is in me and I am in the Father.”
Like the Prodigal son, we have lived our lives without authority, power, belonging and sharing at the table of the feast: but God loved us. And so today we are reminded of this rich mercy, of the great love with which we are loved. We are made alive in Christ, seated with him, shown the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness towards us! If we are living in separation from God, then we are throwing away the gift of love that was given to us.
And because of this great love that we have been shown, we are all challenged today to love each other! The test of how well we have overcome that which separates us from God is how well we love our brothers and sisters:
John 13: 35
By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”