For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.
The Sending of the Son
We see a bit of a nice little proof text here, if you will, for the covenant of redemption between the Father and the Son. That is that the Son would enter into the world and save it. Jesus was not flying by the seat of His pants. He was not recklessly loving the world. It was all part of a sovereignly decreed master plan, a covenant, an agreement with the Father to save.
In the sending of the Son we see how involved God is in the world. He is not distant from us, but He put on skin, and then put his skin in the game, to save us.
The Incarnation of the Son, (God sent His Son into the world).
The Word Made Flesh
God is the author and creator of the world and history. He’s telling a story. What’s wild is that He actually sends His Son into that story, to put on the flesh of His creation, to save them. And to do so by actually living, bleeding, dying, and rising again. Who tells a story like that!?
Jesus went into the world to save the world. Jesus went into His creation, so that He could be falsely accused, beaten, scorned, mocked, and crucified, all the while holding together the ones who were tearing Him apart, so that He could save His world.
Imagine an author writing a book, and him saying, “I’m going to become ink on this page to enter into this story and save my creatures.” That’s crazy, we obviously can’t even do that, and it doesn’t even at all grasp what God did through Christ. Ink on a page can’t bleed, and die under the wrath of God for sinners. God’s story isn’t ink on a page, its flesh and blood. And the Son was sent into flesh and blood. He did so not to be treated as royalty or to be pampered, but to live amongst sinners and those who hated Him. He was sinned against and subjected to great suffering and death. He was sent into suffering. But it was all part of the plan to be sent into the world, and be put into the ground, and then come back up out again.
The Mission of the Son
Not to Condemn the World
I think sometimes we forget this. We can be very condemning of sinners, and condemning of other believers who we disagree with on certain points. We don’t often act like God sent His Son into the world, not to condemn the world, but that He sent His Son into the world to condemn the world. This doesn’t mean we aren’t to go nuclear on false teaching and wickedness when the time is right, but we do so with the hope of salvation, knowing God can save anyone. And we do so, when the time is right. The world needs to know that it is under condemnation and wrath, but we are not doing the condemning, we are telling about how they can be saved in hopes that they would be.
Why did God not send His Son into the world to condemn the world?
One, the world is already condemned (v. 18). Jesus did not come into the world to condemn the world, not because He doesn’t judge or that all will be saved, but because the world was already condemned. It was not neutral. Jesus did not come to a morally neutral world and elect to withhold his judgments and save a neutral world. No, He came into a rebellious pagan world that was already condemned, so that He could save it. This isn’t a matter of God withholding judgment, it’s a matter of judgment being put on Jesus on the cross. It would be blasphemous for me to make that up, but I didn’t. God did it! Let me say it again: This isn’t a matter of God withholding judgment, it’s a matter of judgment being put on Jesus. That’s how Jesus saves!
Second, God is a saving God and desires to save. Since the world was already condemned, it didn’t need condemning, it needed saving, Jesus brought what it needed. God’s sending of His Son was a sending to save. It should blow our minds that God wants to save the world! Why would He desire to save sinners and reconcile rebels to Himself, making His enemies His friends through the death of His Only Son? What a wild thing that God loves the world in such a way that He sent His Son to accomplish that salvation! What grace!
How might this affect the way we evangelize? How might this affect the way that you view the world? You see, we ought to live, work, evangelize, and disciple in this world with this mentality, that God sent His Son to save it! Do you think He’s going to fail? I don’t think so.
That the world might be saved through Him
Building off of last week, this is the nations that are in view in the term “world.” But note the size. While this is a general term to describe all types of people, it is nonetheless a rather large generic description. Let us not take away from the image the Scripture gives us! The world will be saved! While the term “world” is a generic term to describe God’s mission through the Son to save a people from every tribe, nation, and tongue, and is not advocating universalism, nor is it a denial of election, it is nevertheless a general term that describes a lot of people! God has elected to save a lot of people! In this, we see a tint of eschatology in John 3:17. God, through Jesus Christ, has a goal for the world, a purposed end that we are working towards. God, through Jesus Christ is in the process of saving the world! This of course is not meant in the sense of universal salvation to all, but the world in general, Christ was sent to save. I do not believe that it was merely a remnant that Christ was sent to save, but the world in general!
In other words, when all is said and done and history comes to a close, it is not a small remnant that will be saved, but a vast number too big to count! Whatever is going on in Revelation 7, we know that there is a great multitude around the throne of God who have been saved, and in Revelation 7:9 it says, “After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages…” A great multitude will be saved! Too many to count! Doug Wilson says that if you want to see all who are saved when history is said and done, you’re going to need a hubble telescope. The descendants of Abraham are as numerous as the stars in the sky and the sand on the shore. In Matthew 13 Jesus gives us a parable of the tares in the wheat field, or the weeds in the wheat field, where a man sows good seed in his field, but while he is sleeping, an enemy comes and sows weeds in the field. When harvest day comes, the weeds are picked out and thrown into the fire. Jesus compares this to the end of the age. But you know what Jesus says? He says the field is the world, and the good seed is the sons of the Kingdom. While there are tares in among the good seed, it’s a wheat field, not a tare field. It’s a large number! Dare I say a majority! God sent His Son that the world might be saved through Him! God does things big! He is a big Savior!
While I believe the primary intent of the term “world” here is people, and individual salvation, based upon the context and the conversation with Nicodemus, the “world” is also the cosmos, the physical planet we are on. The physical earth is not irrelevant to this passage. It needed saving too.
Do you realize that in Genesis 3, after the fall, the actual physical ground was cursed? God says to Adam in Genesis 3:17, “cursed is the ground because of you…” Disobedience to God, which is not a physical object, is so pervasive that it affects our physical world. This includes the earth, as in Genesis 3:18, as part of the curse on the ground it says, “thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you…” Do you realize that thorns and thistles are here because of the sin in the garden? They are the manifestation of the curse on the ground. Thorns and thistles are a reminder of sin. The apostle Paul picks up on this theme in Romans 8:19-23, “For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.”
God created this world; it’s His. Way back in the garden, when that serpent tempted man, he wasn’t only trying to rule over humankind, he wanted to take over God’s world. That’s why he was kicked out of heaven, for rebellion. That evil dragon tried to take dominion over God’s planet, so he went after the people who were charged with taking dominion over the planet. He must’ve thought that if he could get the rulers of the planet, then he could get the planet itself. Nice try. But God won’t let the dragon from the garden who He kicked out of Heaven for rebellion take it from Him. There is a big battle for the cosmos going on, and Jesus is winning. Jesus died for it. Jesus set it’s curse-reversing in motion at the cross.
This planet is not going down in flames to be destroyed and condemned, it’s being renewed and redeemed with the weeds taken out and thrown into fire, not the other way around.. Jesus is taking it back. He’s saving it. God’s plan to save the world through the Son is an incredible master plan with so much intricate detail. It’s a thorough saving, the world gets. And much needed.
How might this affect the way we think, not only about the world of people we live amongst, but how might it affect the physical world we’re living in? This affects the way we live also. Are we building things just for the here and now, or as if they’re going to be here for our grand kids and great grand kids? Our we building our families this way, by laying a strong foundation of a biblical worldview and gospel preaching? We ought to be discipling our children with our grandchildren and great grandchildren in mind. Our we building businesses this way? Are we committing to church this way? Are we being church members with our children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren in mind, looking forward to the day when we’re gone, but they’re all still here? There’s a good chance they won’t be here when we’re gone, if we don’t live like they will be here.
The Centrality of the Son (“…through Him.”)
It is exclusively in and through Jesus Christ that the world is saved. This is one of the continuous themes throughout John’s gospel.
“That the world might be saved through Him.” Jesus Christ is the center of history. He’s the center of the story God is telling. History is moved along by the life, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus Christ.
How do we count time? Based on Jesus of Nazareth! – B.C. and A.D… We are currently in the year of our Lord 2019. You will actually find that on the constitution of the United States, when it was ratified in 1787, that right above the signatures it says, “in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and eighty seven.” Jesus Christ is the reference point of history. We count time in Christian.
You cannot escape Jesus Christ, and your life cannot not be centered on Him, even if you hate Him. You’re living in 2019. You’re living in God’s world. You’re living in a saved world. Will you put down your arms and surrender to Jesus Christ? Or will you continue to fight a battle that you cannot and will not win?
God’s first son, Adam, made with the dirt of the world, brought condemnation into the very world he was created from. He took a perfectly fine world and condemned it. Sin entered, death entered, curses were put on the ground. But God’s true Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, came into the story, He put on dirt and flesh, and brought salvation into the world. He took a perfectly condemned world and saved it. Sin gets beaten back, death gets defeated, and the curses are reversed for blessing. Though we are guilty sinners in our first father Adam, we can have a new father, through God’s Son, Jesus Christ. For those in Christ Jesus, condemnation gets a “no” put in front of it. Jesus put it there. Romans 8:1, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Thank Jesus for the “no.”
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