From the time I began school, my mother packed my lunch, made with love, and the finest of culinary dishes: The peanut butter and jelly sandwich. The internationally known, "child" sandwich. This was my sandwich of choice probably until I was a Jr. or Sr. in high school. Then and only then did I decide this was below my level of sophisticaition and went to the upper crust of the lunch menu and began carrying the lunch meat sandwich. Wow, what a way to go out into the wild unknown, right?
Years passed before I decided to taste the pb&j again. I could just think of that sandwich and know what each bite would taste like, so why go back to it? Of course, the late night munchies came calling and nothing else would satisfy, but the pb&j with a glass of cold milk. I would like to think my current sandwich was an improvement from the old one, by laying on the peanut butter nice and thick and then using the homemade strawberry jelly I had made...I was right. It was fabulous! It hit the spot. This old forgotten and unsophisticated favorite had enlightened my taste buds once again, amazing!
While my illustration might be simple, yet true, I think it serves a purpose in explaining my most recent "rediscovery"...A sometimes overlooked, often looked at first, but then shelved with the memories of childhood: John 3:16. On my journey to read the Bible through I came to the book of John on Suday morning. The first chapter is so beautifully written, almost sounding as if it were the first book of Genesis when it states: "In the beginning was the word..." Then reading on to verse 9 it speaks of the true Light that comes to every one so they no longer have to live in darkness. There is that light and darkness theme, again...I tucked it into the back of my mind.
Later Sunday morning we were in a small group and read from 1st John 1:7, "But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his son cleanseth us from all sins". Lights started connecting in my soul, back to the first book of John's gospel, I had just read earlier in the morning. Later, as our pastor told a story about when the first printing press was working on printing the Bible and the printers daughter (who had never read the scriptures for herself, but was at the mercy of the Latin given to her from the state church) was sent to clean up the scrap paper from the floor, she found a piece that read, "For God so loved that he gave". These were words she had never heard of or seen. I began to imagine what that must have been like, to read words that had the power of life in them for the very first time.
So just like pulling the old pb&j off the shelf of childhood and retasting it for the first time, I opened the book of John and re-read chapter 2. I wanted to have a running start to read in context the events beginning in chapter 3- this time with a new perspective. I tried to imagine this was the very first time I had ever laid eyes on these words. Jesus has just been performing miracles early in his ministry, then by night (in the darkness) Nicodemous comes to Jesus. This is a risk. Nicodemous is a respected man in his community and is a man of the Pharisees. This was a dangerous task, but he was searching.
Jesus speaks to him, from the lips of God come the words, "For God so loved". This struck me, as many times as I have read it before, I had taken for granted the fact that these were not words from someone who heard it, not from a modern day teacher, but from the lips of God. He stated with confidence to settle the timeless debates on works, that it was his gift of eternal life and believing that would bring mankind out of darkness. Many people don't continue to read the truths past verse 16, in the verses to follow Jesus continues to explain the gift of his light so that men do no have to live in darkness.
I re-read chapter three a couple of times, each time seeing something new that refreshed my soul and left me wanting to search out all the other verses that shed new insight on all the ones that have become too familiar.
When the Bible says, "Oh taste and see that the Lord is good" take this as an invitation to reignite your spiritual taste buds. Those things that seemed so childish to you once, just might transform you today.
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