Very truly, I tell you, anyone who hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life, and does not come under judgment, but has passed from death to life.
Very truly, I tell you, the hour is coming, and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live. For just as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself; and he has given him authority to execute judgment, because he is the Son of Man.
The goal of the gospel is that we might have eternal life. Forgiveness is but the door that leads us to the final intention of God’s love for us – life eternal, to be enjoyed now in this world, and in the world to come.
In the story of the temptation in the Garden of Eden our primordial parents were told:
You may freely eat of every tree of the garden; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall die. (Gen 2:16,17)
In their act of disobedience the fire that lit their relationship with God was blown out. Adam and Eve immediately hid from God in the garden, naked and ashamed. The New Testament indicates that we are all now subject to such a form of spiritual death – unable to see or experience God. As Jesus told Nicodemus, ‘unless you are born again you will never see the kingdom of God’. Today’s passage reminds us that those who believe in Jesus have already passed from death to life.
Struggling to find words to express this, the heart of the gospel, Paul speaks of’ the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory’ (Col1:27). This is the life we receive, Christ in us. Mind-boggling that it may be, we are to consider ourselves as temples of his Spirit.
There is a complementary aspect to the truth that Christ is in us, which is that we are now in him. We have been baptized into his death and caught up in his resurrection. The most common expression for Christians in the New Testament is of those who are ‘in Christ’. We are not merely followers or imitators of Jesus. We are embedded in him, caught up in his life, sharing in his inheritance, secure in his future.
Open the eyes of my heart O Lord
That I may believe what is beyond all imagining,
That I am hid with Christ in God.
Give me a new boldness to go into the world
Empowered by his life
Driven by his compassion
And humbled by the love
That would love one like me.