Kolar: Jesus came to save, not condemn

Rev. Janel Kolar writes about the meaning behind John 3:17, which follows the much more well-known John 3:16.

Rev. Janel F. Kolar is the pastor at First Congregational Church, United Church of Christ in Dickinson, North Dakota.
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John 3:17 "Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.”

John 3:16 is one of the most quoted verses in the Bible. Unfortunately, we are so focused on the joys of God sending his Son to save the world that we don’t always hear the next sentence Jesus spoke. Jesus was not sent to condemn the world, but rather, to save us. His life and purpose wasn’t a great big finger-shaking, but rather a great big loving hug.

Jesus didn’t teach exclusion, judgment, intolerance, and hatred. He didn’t give us instructions about how to make people feel as though they are “less than” because of who they are or what they have done. He showed us by his example how to sit down with the outcast, how to lift up the downtrodden, how to try to help those who are held captive (literally and figuratively) be freed. Jesus spoke up when he saw someone unfairly judged – he drew a line in the sand when the people were about to stone an adultress and suggested only those who were without sin ought to participate in that ritual. Interesting that they put down their stones and walked away….and we should too.

Jesus is our teacher. He is the holder of our souls. He lives today to lead and guide us in the ways we should go. And he did not come among us to shake his finger, so we shouldn’t be so quick to shake ours. If we are truly interested in following him, we have to resist the temptation to condemn people and instead show others that through Jesus, we are all able to be saved.

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