Last Sunday, I commented on the story of Thomas (in John 20). Thomas, and Mary, were both brought to belief – practical transforming belief – in the risen Jesus through close and intimate encounters. We noted John’s summary, that he had written those post-resurrection accounts “so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you might have life in his name”.
Today’s Gospel reading loops back to that theme. It is the final verses of John 3, and John records Jesus declaring “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever disobeys the Son will not see life, but must endure God’s wrath”. It is as stark as that. John doesn’t set out a full Christology, but when he writes he knows this stuff matters. It is, quite literally, a matter of life and death. He has watched, and walked with, and listened to, Jesus. And inspired by the Spirit he now draws readers to confront the reality of a risen Lord. This isn’t just about moral example. It is about the price and penalty for sin – your sin, and mine. The price is paid and the work done. But, John says, it avails nothing if it doesn’t lead each of us to repentance, and to worship. Worship is to declare who, and what, the worshipped one is. Not for the sake of the recitation, but as part of a process of change, and renewal. And, frankly, of submission. God has made the way for man to come home, and has taken the initiative to reach out to us, before we could and would seek for him. But we must respond or – John records Jesus saying, face the wrath of God.
As we proceed through this celebratory season of Easter, it is a reminder, with an edge, of what it is God in Christ saves us from. Because he was raised, we have a confident hope. Without that, we have nothing.