Today we are presented with the famous John 3:16: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Do we really want to live forever? If we think of life in the world’s terms, many people would say no! “Truly all things are vanity, and life is but a shadow and a dream…” (from the Panikhida service).
But this is the case only because death and corruption reign in this world. This is so because the king and priest of this world — mankind — has rejected God, who is the only source of true life, joy, peace, and incorruption. Indeed, we have rejected him twice, in Eden and on the Cross – or rather, we continually reject Him each time we make a conscious choice to sin against Him. “And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.”
But our Savior answers, “be of good cheer, for I have overcome the world” (John 17). “Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death, and on those in the tombs bestowing life” — true, incorrupt life, full of joy and peace. “O Death, where is your sting? O Hell, where is your victory? Christ is risen, and you are overthrown. Christ is risen, and the demons are fallen. Christ is risen, and the angels rejoice. Christ is risen, and life reigns. Christ is risen, and not one dead remains in the grave. For Christ, being risen from the dead, is become the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep. To Him be glory and dominion unto ages of ages.” (Homily of St. John Chrysostom on Pascha)
The paralytic accepted the gift of healing from Peter and John, and gave thanks to God. The rulers of the people rejected the gift, and demanded that that the apostles cease preaching in the name of Jesus. “Every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.” It is us to accept his gift of life, by living according to his commandments. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Let us believe in him, that we may have everlasting life! Let us stop beleiving in sin when it tempts us with pleasures, lusts, and the comfort of material wealth. Let us begin to instead believe our Lord when he tells us that “whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it” (Matt 16:25).
1 And as they spake unto the people, the priests, and the captain of the temple, and the Sadducees, came upon them, 2 Being grieved that they taught the people, and preached through Jesus the resurrection from the dead. 3 And they laid hands on them, and put them in hold unto the next day: for it was now eventide. 4 Howbeit many of them which heard the word believed; and the number of the men was about five thousand. 5 And it came to pass on the morrow, that their rulers, and elders, and scribes, 6 And Annas the high priest, and Caiaphas, and John, and Alexander, and as many as were of the kindred of the high priest, were gathered together at Jerusalem. 7 And when they had set them in the midst, they asked, By what power, or by what name, have ye done this? 8 Then Peter, filled with the Holy Ghost, said unto them, Ye rulers of the people, and elders of Israel, 9 If we this day be examined of the good deed done to the impotent man, by what means he is made whole; 10 Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by him doth this man stand here before you whole.
16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. 17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. 18 He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. 19 And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. 20 For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. 21 But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.