God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him. “There is no judgment against anyone who believes in him. But anyone who does not believe in him has already been judged for not believing in God’s one and only Son. John 3:17-18 NLT
The children of Israel knew well that God judges sin. While they had often experienced His love, His patience and care, they had also experienced His judgement on their sin. They feared Him.
For them to believe that God would send His Son for reasons other than judgement was a stretch. Never could they have imagined that a Messiah would come, not to condemn sinners but to save them; not to condemn the lost but to extend mercy. What unexpected, good news. Even Nicodemus, a well-respected religious leader, needed to hear this announcement from Jesus in person so that he could be saved from condemnation. Yet, in this encounter, there is no evidence that he chose to believe and to look to Jesus to be saved.
Why, at the announcement of salvation, do we often prefer condemnation? In some ways, I contend that it is addictive. I’d rather hate myself than let God love me. I’d rather continue in destructive patterns of sin than to look to Jesus to be saved. I can so easily be like those who sinned against God in the wilderness, the ones who suffered the bite of the serpents. They refused to look at the serpent on the pole to be saved. In their stubbornness, they refused to give up their anger against a God who wounded but provided a cure. They nursed their grudges against His holiness.
I’ve also gone so far as to admit my guilt, confess it, but then wallow around in it, insisting that I don’t deserve to be forgiven. Condemnation feels justified and quite comfortable the longer I wear it. I throw myself a long pity party and shun the Forgiver. I feel quite powerful as I exert my freedom to say ‘no.’ The author of such things, Satan, celebrates when this kind of twisted pleasure keeps God’s creation from salvation.
Jesus did not come into the world to judge it as proven by His own death on a cross. He affirmed that sin must be judged and paid for but then paid for it Himself as the One, and final, perfect sacrifice. His very actions proved that His intentions were to save. Oh, to have paid such a price only to see people reject the gift of this expensive pardon. For whatever reasons He is rejected, it’s a tragic response to the humblest suffering Servant of all.
Does my own self-inflicted guilt keep me from salvation from sin today? Break my chains. Amen