Bible Reading John 3 v 13-18
No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven—the Son of Man, so that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.”
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.
Seventy years ago last month, Paris was liberated. D-Day have happened a few months earlier, in June 1944, and the Allied Armies were sweeping through Northern France, with the Germans in retreat. There was no longer the dreaded Gestapo spying on one’s every move. The ordinary French people no longer lived in fear of imprisonment or execution for defying the German tyranny. They no longer were ordered what to do by the hated foreign invaders. Liberation changed people’s lives, and gave them freedom.
Most of the time.
Because there were pockets of dogged German resistance. Despite knowing that the tide of the war had turned, and that they stood no chance of victory, they still fought on.
They still caused pain and damage. They had done a lot of damage to London with the V1 flying bombs, but now most of the launch sites had been overrun by the allies. The Allied Liberation prevented the Nazi forces continuing their vengeful damage.
And many years before that, another three Allies brought a long-planned liberation into action. God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, had seen the suffering that sin had brought. The Trinity knew the fear and damage that was caused by people doing what they knew was wrong. Jesus brought liberation to the world. In fact, he also bought that liberation, at a price. And this was the price:
God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
Jesus died. He paid the ultimate sacrifice, just as many Free French and Allied soldiers had done 70 years ago. The Gospel goes on,
God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.
Being a Christian is not about being ‘holier than thou’, or having all the answers, but accepting the free gift that God gives. And that free gift is liberation.
But there are still pockets of resistance. Although evil is defeated, like the Germans 70 years ago, they don’t accept defeat, and so in this life there is still pain and heartache. And some of that resistance is from within, 5th columnists, the traitors within. We ourselves still do things we regret. But the good news is that the enemy is defeated, and in Jesus, there is forgiveness and a new start. With Jesus, we are condemned no more, but given the true freedom of living a life of love and purpose.
As John Newton wrote all those years ago,
Amazing grace! how sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch; like me!
I once was lost, but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see.
’Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,
And grace my fears relieved;
How precious did that grace appear
The hour I first believed!
The Lord hath promised good to me,
His word my hope secures;
He will my shield and portion be
As long as life endures.
When we’ve been there ten thousand years,
Bright shining as the sun,
We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise
Than when we first begun.