If we could summarize the entire Bible into one single verse, perhaps it should be as follows:
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.John 3:16
From this verse, we can see at least three fundamental tenets:
- God so loved the world
- He gave His only begotten Son
- Whoever believes in the Son have everlasting life
What does it mean to say that God so loved the world? Mythologically it sounds simple at a glance. But then, reflecting on this phrase philosophically, we could see the profound, enigmatic antimony.
Who is God? And where is God? Where did God come from, and where is God going? We can never know the answers since He is the absolute subjectivity. Beyond him, there is nothing seen; even there is no time at all. Before the beginning and after the end, there is nothing at all, including saying nothing at all. Only God is, including impossibility to say only God is.
Such antinomy can lead us to the well-known sentences:
- Why is there anything at all?
- Why is there something rather than nothing?
We can never find the answers to these questions. Getting the answers is ontologically and epistemologically impossible. As far as our minds are concerned, the questions themselves would be meaningless.
At least, however, our experience knows that there is the world. We do not understand why the world is and why we are in the world. Hypothetically, that which is God could be in the realm of such unknown impossibility. If saying so sounds mythological or religious, we could also see many hypothetical speculations in the field of astrophysics and cosmologies.
In any case, our minds can never comprehend these mysteries. Is there any way to understand and embrace the mysteries? Perhaps, we should surrender our minds and focus on our souls. At least, the said verse suggests so. It says:
God so loved the world.
Our minds can never see God. But, our souls can see God so loved the world. Therefore, we can sense God loves us. It is not the mind but the soul. We can see this example from Mary’s prayer:
And Mary said, My soul doth magnify the Lord, And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour. For he hath regarded the low estate of his handmaiden: for, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.
One night, the angel Gabriel appeared to Mary, saying that she would have the baby, God’s begotten Son. How could be that possible? It sounds so unrealistic if not superstitious or mythological. The conversation between Mary and Gabriel was as follows:
And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth, To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women.
Gabriel said to Mary that she was highly favored, and God was with her blessing her among women. It somehow sounded positive; at the same time, it confused her a lot. So, Mary’s reaction was as follows:
And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be… Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?Luke 1:29, 34
Her mind troubled her. It was beyond her comprehension. Even she answered back to Gabriel, saying, “how shall this be, seeing I know not a man?”
But Gabriel kept on telling her that she should not fear and God favored her. And the truth is that “God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son.”
And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God. And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS.Luke 1:30-31
Her mind was not able to understand what was taking place to her and the world. And there was the moment when she surrendered her mind but rested on her soul. At that very moment, she started praying spontaneously and joyfully. Let me repeat her prayer:
And Mary said, My soul doth magnify the Lord, And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour. For he hath regarded the low estate of his handmaiden: for, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.Luke 1:46-48
Like Mary, our souls can see God so loved the world and love us as well. Our souls magnify the Lord. And our spirits can rejoice in Him. Like Mary, at the very moment, we can see His will as we are His humble servants. Like Mary, then, we can understand why God gave us His only begotten Son and the meaning of everlasting life in believing in Him.
Image by Jacques GAIMARD