"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him."
Have you ever watched a televised sporting event and seen someone holding a sign that says, "John 3:16"? It is one of the most widely recognized Bible verses. Many people have this scripture memorized, but what does it really means to our lives? Often times in our society when a significant phrase becomes so common within the culture the depth of its true meaning gets lost.
In my own personal experience, when I saw the movie "The Passion Of CHRIST" I was deeply moved and overcome with heavy emotion. It was a very graphic example of what JESUS must have truly suffered while on HIS way to the cross. It was very hard for me to watch and afterwards I felt so unworthy of HIS sacrifice on my behalf. It was then I began to really understand the concept of grace & mercy as it comes from our FATHER.
I visited Jerusalem and had an incredible time visiting many of the ancient historical sites. While in Jerusalem I received new revelation to John 3:16-17. I went to the ancient "old city" of Jerusalem which is inside the modern city. While there I walked the path where it is said JESUS carried the cross to HIS crucifixion. This path known as the Via Dolorosa (aka The Way Of The Cross) has 14 stations or marking points to note the events that occurred along the way. For example, it marks all 3 times where JESUS dropped HIS cross (including the spot where it is said that Simon the Cyrenian was forced to help JESUS carry the cross up to Golgotha. This path leads into the Church of the Holy Sepulcher (Church of the Resurrection). The Holy Sepulcher is a temple that was built over top the site of the location where JESUS was crucified (Calvary aka Golgotha), and the tomb where HE was buried and later arose from the dead.
The evening on which I visited the "old city" was Christmas Eve as celebrated by Orthodox Christians who follow the Gregorian Calendar. This calendar recognizes December 25 Christmas Day on January 7, and originates from the ancient Julian Calendar. On this night (Christmas Eve) there were many people in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher praying during a special church service. Being there I was deeply moved much in the same way as watching "The Passion Of CHRIST".
"But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed."
I use to read this scripture and think about it in reference to GOD's healing of our physical illnesses. While this is certainly true, through GOD's revelation I now know the meaning is much deeper. When Isaiah says, "by his wounds we are healed", it speaks to our spiritual relationship with GOD that was broken by Adam's sin in the garden of Eden being healed (restored). I have always felt this in my heart but received confirmation while at the Holy Sepulcher. There is no greater relationship than with our Heavenly FATHER who is the creator of the universe. In comparison to all that exists, HE loves us so much that HE would sacrifice HIS son JESUS so we may be reconciled with our FATHER.
If you ever have the opportunity to visit Jerusalem I highly recommend you visit the "old city" and the Holy Sepulcher. Here are a couple of links you might find interesting.
video documentary: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dqhdbUh8TkY
general info: http://www.bibleplaces.com/holysepulcher.htm
detailed info: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Church_of_the_Holy_Sepulchre
JESUS is truly our Savior! HE saved us from being separated from GOD for eternity! All we have to do is believe and accept HIM as LORD. HE looked beyond our sin and gave HIMSELF for us. Even though we reject HIM and are far from deserving such grace and mercy, HE yet gave the ultimate sacrifice for us. If you never have the chance to visit Jerusalem, know that GOD is present with you where you are at this very moment. HE loves you right where you are! You may have just made the worst mistake of your life, but GOD will forgive and restore you. HE wont force it upon you. Just be open to receive and HE will gladly restore you. If you are ready, HE has it available for you right now.
We live in very hard times. The economy of several countries is on the verge of collapse. Many people have lost jobs and homes. We are no longer isolated by country or continent. Because of the internet, mobile phones, ipads and similar technology, we have grown into a global community. As a global community our way of life as we knew it is no more. Today we all are embarking towards an uncertain future. Why has our Heavenly FATHER who loves us so much allowed this to happen? I do not have an answer for this. However I am convinced with certainty that GOD knew this day would come, and HE has given us hope in JESUS CHRIST. Yes indeed we have been given the gift of Salvation through JESUS. In the risen JESUS CHRIST we also have a Savior who cares about and meets our daily needs.
The times we live in are gloomy and the general talk from the media paints a picture of hopelessness. But all is not lost. GOD is not on a mission to harm us. HE is on a mission to bless us. GOD has not forgotten us. HE is right here with us and has delivered us through HIS son JESUS.
Here is what JESUS said . . .
"I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world."
I pray these words have been a blessing for you as they are for me (bringing us in closer relationship with our FATHER). Please feel welcome to reply and share your thoughts by posting them here or privately at email@example.com.
If this message has touched your heart and you do not know JESUS CHRIST as your Lord & Savior but want HIM in your life you can accept HIM right now wherever you are. Pray this prayer out loud, "Dear GOD, I ask forgiveness for all of my sins. I believe that JESUS CHRIST is your son. I believe that JESUS suffered and died on the cross, was buried, and was resurrected for me. I accept JESUS as my Lord & Savior. Come now and live in my heart. I accept you as head of my life. In the name of JESUS I thank you, Amen."
If you have just prayed this prayer I say to you "GOD bless you and Congratulations"! If you do not have a church home, pray and ask GOD to lead you to a local (Bible believing) church in your area where you can be baptized in the name of JESUS, fed the Word of GOD, and fellowship with other Christians.
If you have any questions please send an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org
GOD bless you!