Perishing and eternal life…

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John 3:14 (Jesus said) And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, 15 that whoever believes in him may have eternal life. 16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.”

Today is Good Friday – the day we remember Jesus’ death on a cross. Two days from now we will celebrate Jesus’ resurrection from the dead on Easter Sunday. What gets my attention today is the contrast between the words “perish” and “eternal life” in v.16.

Jesus is not saying that Christian believers will never die (perish) – in a mortal sense. Everyone dies, Christian or not. The Greek word translated here as “perish” refers more to a spiritual reality than a reality of the flesh. This same word is used here in 1 Corinthians chapter 1:

18 For the message about the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

In this sense to “perish” is a process of spiritual death. It’s being separated from the life-giving God who created heaven and earth – and all people. However through Jesus our sins are forgiven and we are brought near to our holy God, adopted as sons and daughters of the living God. In other words, we are given “eternal life” in which we come alive on the inside and remain so for all eternity. Even when our mortal body has died.

Lord Jesus, thank you for your obedience to God the Father. Thank you for taking our sin to the cross and giving to us your righteousness – by grace. We pray this in your holy name. Amen.

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