Friday, March 10
“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.
“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.”
We often miss the quotation marks around this famous passage of Scripture. Jesus is speaking to Nicodemus. Jesus makes promises to him. You can count the promises in the above passage.
I picture Jesus narrowing his gaze upon Nicodemus alone. I see Jesus extending a hand to him, perhaps even a hand upon his shoulder as he promises, “God loves you so very much Nicodemus. God loves you so much that he gave his only Son so that you might be saved through him.”
Nicodemus would come to know, as we know, Jesus’ promises lead him to the cross and then to a joyful resurrection on the first day of a new creation.
Jesus invites us to trust these promises and to believe the Promise Giver. When we do so we enjoy and make use of Christ’s benefits: forgiveness, reconciliation, mercy, life eternal, and more.
Sometimes we don’t trust the promises or the Promise Giver. We wander into the far country. The far country is the landscape we inhabit when we hang our hearts on something or someone other than God. It is the sandy terrain upon which we trust the promises the world holds out to us. It is the territory in which we fear something or someone other than God. These false promises quickly tarnish and disappoint.
But even the far country is a land that is, in the words of one author, Christ-haunted. In the times I have wandered off into the far country, I always had the sense that I was being stalked by the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit reminds us of God’s promises. The Spirit of God employs means such as those who speak the Word to us, and by the water we see in the baptismal font as we pass by. In those waters the Spirit marked us with the cross of Christ. We may be wandering in the far country, but we answer the altar call anyway. We are hungry. Christ’s body and blood lure us home.
Heavenly Father, by your Holy Spirit’s power make us promise bearers and inspire us to make use of Christ’s benefits. In Jesus’ name, Amen.