14 July 2005

Thoughts on the Father's Love

“Jesus Loves Me”

The children sing:

Jesus loves me,
This I know,
For the Bible
Tells me so.

Ah, but does the Father of Jesus love you? That’s a question worth pondering. You see, for years I have to confess to having misread John 3:16. I read those familiar words and understood them like this:

The Father loves me because of (and only because of) what Jesus did for me.

Which means, of course, that it is not me that the Father loves. The Father hates me and has to punish me for my sin. But instead of pounding on me, He sends Jesus into the flesh so that He can pound on Him and let me off from the punishment I so richly deserve. What a horrific picture of God!

But, of course, John 3:16 does not say that the Father loves me because of what Jesus did for me. It says, in point of fact, the exact opposite. The Father loves me and that’s why Jesus came to do what He did for me.

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only-begotten Son that whosoever believeth on Him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.”

This “flip-flop” in understanding John 3:16 opens up whole vistas of grace! The Father is NOT full of rage and anger at you, ready to pounce on you for your sin, and only letting you off because He expends His anger on His Son instead. The Father LOVES you. You, the real you! He loves you in this way: that He sends His only-begotten Son into the flesh to defeat and destroy your enemies: sin and death and hell.

The cross, then, is not about God’s anger at sinners. It is about His love for sinners. If God is angry at anything, it is at sin and Satan and death – these corrupters of the children He loves. God is so implacably opposed to sin in our lives because He is so overwhelming in love with us and He hates and despises what havoc sin wrecks in those whom He loves.

So maybe the children’s song should be rewritten:

The Father loves me,
This I know,
His Son’s coming
Shows me so! Amen!

4 comments:

Preachrboy said...

Rev. Weedon,

You may wish to list with the Lutheran Blog Directory:

http://lutheranblogs.blogspot.com

Listing is free and easy.

Peace,

Rev. Tom Chryst

JBOC said...

Hello Pastor Weeden,

Jesus loves me,
This I know,
For the Bible
Tells me so.

This sounds Sound and Orthodox to me. I know Jesus through the Bible. Faith comes from hearing the Word of the Lord. So the Bible is the means of Grace. Furthermore the Bible and the Sacraments are the normative means of Grace in this day and age. So might I suggest that we add your verse to the song instead of replacing what is already there.

Just tonight I talked to a fine young lady who lifeguards at the club we belong to. In response to my questions she remarked that she loved God and believed in Jesus but was troubled by her church (Episcopalian). In her life the church is failing her and she lacks the solid rock of scripture on which to stand. I suggested reading the book of Romans aloud as a good place to start. She is still under her parents authority so a change of churches is not practical at the moment. But I know that if she keeps her promise to read the Bible then there is good hope for her. After all, how can she learn of the coming of Jesus except through the Bible in what ever form it comes in. By the way I greatly enjoy it when you are on Issues Etc...
Best wishes,
Barry O'Connell

William Weedon said...

Good thoughts, Barry. What a fascinating homepage you have! Oriental rugs - I've loved them, but only as a Philistine. I know nothing about them except that I have always thought them to be lovely.

Thanks for the kind comments on Issues, Etc. Always a blast.

I'm from the D.C. area, actually. Wheaton.

Pax!

JBOC said...

Your program on Matins was brilliant. I was singing Matins one day in church when I suddenly had a massive realization of how the Solas work and a realization of my own salvation. Not that I did anything to be saved but at that moment I had that flash of realization what was going on. Now when ever I can I sing matins. It creates a place of peace and safety for me. I liked your idea of Matins before the service.

The rugs are a wonderful hobby. I go over to Iran a few times a year and invariably I get to talk on their national TV about what it means to be a Christian. Just to talk about submission to God and acceptance of his will in a Muslim country makes the whole thing worth while.
best wishes,
Barry O'Connell