Life for eternity
For his followers, the challenge that Jesus put before them was immense. It meant turning their backs on any people or possessions that were an obstacle to them progressing toward the Kingdom of God. Why would anyone do this? Because they would be part of a new community so loving and loyal that it would endlessly compensate for anything they had lost.
It would not just be on earth that they would benefit in this way. Jesus offered his followers ‘eternal life’. They would have a relationship with the God who is outside time, so that relationship would not end when they died. The followers of Jesus had begun a new life that would last forever.
Eternal life was God’s gift to humanity. It was not something that needed to be earned or striven for by obeying religious rules. God’s love was so unconditional that he would accept anyone who came to him, no matter how helpless or humble. This was God’s grace.
According to Jesus, a life of scrupulous obedience to religious regulations and practices might even prove to be an obstacle. The best example of how to live a life that brought delight to God was a little child, because a child was unable to do anything for himself or herself, but needed to rely totally on someone else. ‘I tell you the truth,’ he said, ‘anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.’ The younger and more vulnerable the baby, the better for allowing God to create something fine and new. In fact, God wanted to give men and women a complete rebirth: ‘I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born again.’
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Read what the Bible says about it
An extract from the Bible:
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.
Where to find it:
About these words:
Jesus explains his mission to an intellectual called Nicodemus.
And they said...
Robert Capon Farr, North American writer:
Jesus came to raise the dead. The only qualification for the gift of the gospel is to be dead. You don't have to be smart. You don't have to be good. You don't have to be wise. You don't have to be wonderful. You don't have to be anything ... You just have to be dead.
Woody Allen, film director:
There will be no major solution to the suffering of mankind until we reach some understanding of who we are, what the purpose of creation was, what happens after death. Until these questions are resolved we are caught.
Bono, musician, asked whether it was far-fetched to call Jesus the Son of God:
No, it's not farfetched to me. Look, the secular response to the Christ story always goes like this: he was a great prophet, obviously a very interesting guy, had a lot to say along the lines of other great prophets, be they Elijah, Muhammad, Buddha, or Confucious. But actually Christ doesn't allow you that. He doesn't let you off the hook. Christ says: No, I am not saying I'm a teacher, don't call me teacher. I am not saying I'm a prophet. I'm saying, ‘I am the Messiah.’ I'm saying: ‘I am God incarnate.’
And people say: No, no please, just be a prophet. A prophet we can take ... Because, you know, we are going to have to crucify you. And he goes: No, no. I know you're expecting me to come back with an army, and set you free from these creeps, but actually I am the Messiah. At this point, everyone starts staring at their shoes, and says: Oh, my God, he's gonna keep saying this. So what you're left with is: either Christ was who he said he was - the Messiah - or else a complete nutcase.