Jesus said to Nicodemus: No one has gone up to heaven except the one who has come down from heaven, the Son of Man. And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, so that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life. For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him. ( John 3:13-17)
This gospel passage known by all Christians causes me to tremble when I read it. That tremble is not from my advancing age. Rather, it is caused by the sheer enormity of the words. “ For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son.
It is a love like no other love that you or I may have experienced. It is unconditional. It is unmerited and undeserving. No words can describe it except this – It is a love demonstrated by the greatest act of sacrifice – a Father who gives up a Son and a Son who gives up his life.
There is no word in our human language that could ever convey to the human intelligence the immensity of it.
St John tells us in one brief sentence that it defies definition, baffles all description, that it is inexpressible, unspeakable. “God loved the world so much that He gave His only Son.” The gift of His Son would have to be the proof and measure of God’s love. We may consider it, but never comprehend it; we may know it, but it surpasses all knowledge; we may speak of it, but it is unspeakable; we may search the breadth, length, depth and height of it, but all dimensions and magnitudes fail to supply plummet or compass by which we may tell the extent of it. His gift is unspeakable.
Not some warm fuzzy kind of emotion or sentiment. It is profoundly deep and complex. The Incarnation and the Cross; the suffering the Son had to endure; His sorrows, the suffering and shame of Gethsemane and Golgotha, the darkness, the woe.
His death and shedding of his blood taken together is the answer to the question of the extent of God’s love. It was God’s utterance of an unutterable love; His love declared by His unspeakable gift.
No one of us could ever duplicate it.
An unspeakable gift must produce unspeakable joy. Every earthly pleasure is speak able because it is temporary and conditional. But God’s unspeakable gift of Love carries us beyond the confines of this realm, beyond the limits of time and space, and thus thrills us with divine joy, unspeakable in human speech. It is the joy of faith, the joy of love, not natural but divine. And strange though it may seem, this unspeakable joy goes along with the heaviness of the Cross.
On earth, trials and sorrow will be our inevitable lot, a light affliction nonetheless; but in heaven, we can only experience a far more exceeding weight of glory. All that is imperfect, and belongs to our present state of mortality, will be swept away by the power of immortality. And that which is humanly unspeakable will now be spoken because and heaven’s language will become our familiar tongue.
When it comes to love, humanity’s version is but a pale shadow compared to the truth of God’s love. “God loved the world so much that He gave His only Son.” This is God’s love and it is this type of love that God would have us show to others. Have you accepted that challenge? If so, are you living that challenge?
Prayer of The Day
Lord Jesus, you have been kind and forgiving towards me. May I be merciful as you are merciful. Free me from all bitterness and resentment that I may truly forgive from the heart those who have caused me injury or grief.
We see in this gospel that the decisive point is that whoever scorns God’s love condemns himself. God is not at all eager to condemn people. He is nothing but Love, Love that goes as far as the Father sacrificing his Son out of love for the world. There is nothing more for him to give us. The whole question now is whether we accept God’s unconditional love so that it can prove efficacious and fruitful in our lives, or whether we choose to continue to cower in our darkness in order to evade the illuminating love of his grace. If we choose the latter, then the description in the gospel fits us – we are those who “hate the light,” we hate true love, and we affirm our egoism in any form whatsoever, often mistaking such egoism for love.