Today’s Reflection
not "merely" forgiven! (John 3:1-17)

The Rev. Dr. Judith Jones, Priest at St. Stephens Episcopal Church in Newport, Oregon, interprets John 3:1-17 as good news for the entire cosmos. Below is a distillation from her full 2018 commentary on this passage, which is available at workingpreacher.org :

"In his conversation with Nicodemus Jesus refers to all three persons of the Trinity. God is the One who loves the cosmos and who, unwilling to let it perish, gives the Son. God sends the Son not to condemn the world and its inhabitants, but to rescue and restore them (the Greek word translated as “save” or “saved” in John 3:17 is sozo, which means save in the sense of rescue, heal, and make whole)....

"Those who place their trust in Jesus will have eternal life, being reborn from above out of/by water and the Spirit (Greek pneuma). Pneuma can mean “spirit,” “breath,” and “wind,” and Jesus plays with this ambiguity. Like the breath of God in Genesis 2, the Spirit gives life to believers. Like the wind, God’s Spirit blows wherever it wishes, and though observers may perceive its presence, they neither comprehend it nor control it. Strikingly, Jesus says that those who are born of the Spirit share in the Spirit’s mysterious freedom (John 3:8). . . .

"Jesus refers to God’s gift of new life both as eternal life (John 3:15, 16) and as the kingdom of God (John 3:3, 5 — the only occurrences in John of a term that is central to Jesus’ teaching in the Synoptic Gospels). Both phrases refer to the same reality, though they emphasize different aspects of it. Eternal life is life shaped by and utterly dependent on God’s love. It is not simply life in heaven after death. It begins now, in the moment that believers entrust their lives to Jesus. When believers receive eternal life, they enter into God’s reign in the here and now. . . .

"Those who trust Jesus, staking their lives on divine love, will be reborn from above through the Spirit. By God’s mercy they will be not merely forgiven, but made whole, remade in God’s image as participants in God’s new creation."

Notes

Dr. Judith Jones's bio is available at ststephenepiscopal.org/our-priest