Lesson 2: Sacrificial Love

The wrath of God is a way of saying that I have been living in a way that is contrary to the love that is God. Anyone who begins to live and grow away from God, who lives away from what is good, is turning his life toward wrath.

– Pope Benedict XVI

Devotion: Read John 3:31-36. No discussion of God’s love is complete without acknowledging the Creator’s love of the creation, a love that refuses to allow evil to stand forever. In that sense, love is the driving force behind God’s wrath and judgment. The “wrath of God” is not a way of saying God hates certain people—God desires all to be saved (1 Tim 2:4)—but that God hates injustice. 

Jesus came to speak the truth about the reign of God and call people to live according to that way of life. Separation from God is spiritual death, and so it is a serious matter for people to listen to the “words of God.” Those who seek forgiveness find it. The ones who desire eternal life receive it. But those who choose injustice and reject the presence of the Spirit encounter the wrath of God which demands justice for the creation. How angry do you get at loved ones who make bad choices and hurt themselves? How difficult a position is it when one of your loved ones hurts another? Is it possible God might grieve the necessity of the coming judgment?

Personal Worship Option: Read 2 Peter 3:8-10. God desires all to come to salvation. Call, write, or visit someone today who might need to be reminded they are valuable.

Dig A Little Deeper:

Notice how these verses parallel John 3:16-21. This is really a summation of John’s entire gospel presentation.

3:31 Jesus speaks with authority about heavenly subjects because he came from heaven. His words carry more weight than someone who has only seen earthly things. Jesus’ words will be difficult for those on earth to understand at times, and it will be easy to reject them because they invite us to believe what we have not seen. Jesus does more than teach what is naturally discernible for us. He proclaims truths we cannot discover on our own. This is the nature of faith. Faith requires acting on truths we have not yet experienced.

Just as with Nicodemus in 3:12, things of the earth (such as God’s Covenant with Abraham and John’s baptism) are supposed to prepare us for heavenly things, mysteries dependent upon faith alone (Incarnation, Trinity, the gift of the Spirit).

3:32 This is very similar to John 3:11. We sense the frustration in Jesus concerning the lack of positive response to his testimony. What does it say that Jesus expects people to believe and follow him prior to the resurrection? What would it take for someone to believe his words prior to resurrection?

3:33 Those who do receive Christ’ teachings on faith become a witness to the world that God is trustworthy.

3:36 This passage is very similar to 3:18-19. In scripture, “whoever believes” means those who act on Jesus’ teachings. Therefore, “whoever disobeys” refers to those who reject or fails to embody his teachings. We cannot separate faith from action.  

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