“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
It’s probably one of the most famous of texts to be found in the Word of the Lord. It’s quoted everywhere, people hold up signs that simply say “John 3:16” and why not? It’s a beloved verse that simply and yet beautifully explains the entire scope of the Gospel message in nothing more than one sentence. Disciples and Apostles used entire Epistles to try and clarify the same message, Prophets and Psalmists would take verse after verse to try and describe this same concept. Yet, in one verse, found in the divinely inspired writing of St. John it is found so clearly illuminated that it cannot be mistaken. So clearly illuminated that it shines the light of the Lord in our hearts and in our souls.
What though does this mean for the hostage and the captive, for the prisoner and the slave? What does this mean for sailor whose ship is boarded by pirates or the young girl ripped from the streets to be sold as flesh and nothing more? What does it mean as the slave is beaten or the hostage is ransomed, as the captive held in darkness and despair, and the prisoner is kept from their loved ones, what does this mean?
We live in a world of torment and torture, a world so given to agony and anguish, to pain and despair, to hurt and chaos as the cries of the oppressed yearning to be free shatters the peace of our souls and robs this existence of its innocence.
Yet, it’s not the first time… It’s not the first time that we have seen this.
The history of mankind is a history of trouble and hardship, of challenge and trial, all of which grip the soul amidst the hurt that grasps at our spirits. Throughout God has seen horrific and horrifying events that have cast darkness upon this world. But never… not ever was He far off… a God of Deliverance, even in the darkest of days as wicked men worked their wicked ways, the Lord would stand defiant to their tyranny and their oppression, to that hatred that would subjugate their fellow man amidst the evil that held their hearts. The Lord God Almighty would never abandon or forsake His children.
And here, in the beautiful message found in John’s Gospel account we see that taught so clearly with wondrous significance and glorious meaning.
The greatest captivity to ever hold man in its clutches was the captivity to the grave, it was the power that sin, death and the Devil held over us, robbing us of our peace and our comfort, of our lives, of that blessing of eternal life. Yet God, in His love, mercy, kindness and compassion, in the richness of His grace, would contend with the cause of His children, that they might find a solace and a blessed assurance that would come to illuminate their souls and free their spirits. He would send His only begotten Son to ransom us from that evil presence that would chase hope from our lives and rob us of our freedom as it held us in such bleak estate.
If this is the love that God has shown unto a captive world, then how much more love does He show unto His children even now amidst the trials and the tribulations of their current ordeal?
The Lord, He shall, in righteousness and love, in compassion and mercy, deliver His children. He shall let His justice be known, as He has through all the ages, letting His children be guided by His hand through His devotion to them. He is a God of tender kindness, and there He abides with the lost and the forsaken, touching them with His healing hand and giving them strength when it is needed, when they feel the weight of this world crushing them under that deep burden.
Just as He sent His Son into this world to rescue all who are held captive by sin's dark power, His presence will be known in this world as He sets free all the prisoners and hostages, all the slaves held by the forces of evil working amidst the murky shadows, according to His time, in His way, by His justice. Though we may not always understand He shall be there for His children in all things, through all things, all the days of their lives.
It is a trust we can rely on for we have seen the power of the Lord at work in this world, bringing freedom to even the most lost of souls, and offering justice even through the days of the greatest injustice. He does not abandon His promises, we know this, for we have seen the fulfillment of those promises through Christ Jesus, our Savior and Messiah. And there we know He shall remain ever vigilant beside His children in all the days of their lives, as they journey through the challenges and the hardships of this world, regardless of how powerful the forces of wickedness and transgression may seem to be.
In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.