ST. JOHN, the author of the Acts of the Apostles, is different from the authors of the three other Gospels. Often, after relating some words of Jesus, John adds an explanation of the faith, which he supports with declarations that Jesus made on other occasions. That is what happens in this case.
How can this be? Nicodemus asked in another occasion. To enter into the life of the Spirit, we need to know God’s plan for us. Yet no one can speak properly on such things except the Son of God. He has seen heavenly things, that is, the intimate life of God; he also speaks of earthly things, that is, of the kingdom that God brings to us. Many of Jesus’ listeners will not accept what he says about the Reign of God; much less will they pay attention to what he reveals about the mystery of God.
Jesus reveals to us that which, by ourselves, we are unable to know. Thus a Christian is not one who merely “believes in God,” we are Christians because we believe the testimony of Jesus (v. 11) regarding God and his plan of salvation.
In this plan, there was something very difficult to accept: that the Son of Man would have to die on the cross and so from the dead (be lifted on high means the same). Jesus reminds them of the serpent in the desert in the desert. This episode in the Bible (Num 21) prefigured what would happen to Jesus. Of course, the Jews did not grasp the meaning of this message; in fact, they passed over all the predictions of the sufferings of their savior without understanding them.
They had to revise their ideas about other matters, also. The Jews had been praying for God to come and expected him to condemn the world and to punish the bad. He, on the other hand, sent his own Son to the cross so that the world will be saved (v. 17).
Other verses of the New Testament say that we should not love the world; which seems to contradict what we have just read: God so loved the world. The reason for this contradiction is that the word world has several meanings.
First, the world means all of creation, which is good since it is God’s work. The center of this divine work is humankind, which has come under the influence of Satan (8: 34 and 44). Everything that sinful humanity creates – riches, culture, and social life – is influenced, disfigured and used for evil. Hence, God sent his Son so that the world will be saved.
Yet, even though Christ’s resurrection initiated his invincible power over history, a strong current of evil continues, dragging along all who refuse to acknowledge the truth. This evil current is sometimes called the world. It would be more appropriate to say: the people who surrender themselves to the Master of the world. The scripture points to them in saying: Do not love the world, or you are not of the world (1 Jn. 2: 15; 4: 6).
It is up to us Christians, all Christians, whether Catholics or Protestants or Born Again Christians or Muslims to implement the plan of God on his Creation. All Christian Churches should work together as one Church.
(For your comment email: firstname.lastname@example.org)