This week, in our daily lectionary, we covered the often abused and overused passage of John 3:16. As it so happens, I was assigned to preach on this very text for my preaching class at Emory this week. So, I figured I’d share, since this has historically been a very difficult passage for me, having grown up in the South’s Bible Belt where this little passage is used far more as a threat and means of coercion rather than an invitation.
The passage I was assigned picks up with the last two verses of Wednesday’s lectionary and goes through Thursday’s reading. Context, after all, can be everything:
13 No one has ascended into heaven except the one who descended from heaven, the Son of Man. 14 And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, 15 that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.
16 For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.
17 Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.Those who believe in him are not condemned; but those who do not believe are condemned already, because they have not believed in the name of the only Son of God. 19 And this is the judgment, that the light has come into the world, and people loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil. 20 For all who do evil hate the light and do not come to the light, so that their deeds may not be exposed. 21 But those who do what is true come to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that their deeds have been done in God.
So for anyone that’s been hurt, offended, or just tired of this little passage, here’s how I’m trying to come to grips with it after all these years.