“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
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!