Sermon Outline On John 3:14-17Â (NRSV)
And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life. “Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.
God’s grace is a gift, freely offered to everyone, but it only has saving power when we chose to accept it. That closet had saving power, but only when those two women chose to accept the gift of its saving power.
From Mount Hor they set out by the way of the Red Sea, going around Edom. The people had grown impatient. The spoke against Moses and God. “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? There is no food and no water, and we detest this miserable food.”
Scripture tells us that the Lord sent poisonous serpents among the people. Many were bitten and died.
They came to Moses and said, “We have sinned by speaking against the Lord and against you. Pray to the Lord to take away the serpents.”
God said to Moses, ‘Make a poisonous serpent and set it on a pole and everyone who is bitten shall look at it and live.’
In John’s gospel, we find Jesus using this story from the history of his people as a parable. Jesus says, just as Moses lifted up the serpent, so the Son of Man shall be lifted up. The serpent was lifted up so that the people might be saved. Jesus must be lifted up so that we might be saved.
This verb translated ‘lifted up’ has a double meaning. It can mean ‘to be lifted up.’ It can also mean ‘exalted.’
Jesus is referring to his being physically lifted up on a cross, his death on a cross that brings us new life. Jesus is also referring to being exalted because of the cross. Being exalted can also be referring to his resurrection & ascension.
Jesus tells us early in John’s gospel that the price for our sins will be his death on a cross. Lent ‘“ a time to reflect on our relationship with Jesus the Christ. A good time to remember that Jesus died for you and me.
If you have ever watched pro football, you have seen it. That sign in the stands, framed by the goal posts. That sign that simply reads, ‘John 3:16.’ I sometimes wonder how many people watching know the words of that verse, or even if it is a scripture verse. Most of us here, know John 3:16: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.’ These words Martin Luther called ‘the gospel in miniature.’
John uses these words to reinforce the previous message. He again speaks of the eternal life that is ours through Jesus Christ. For John, eternal life is a dominate metaphor. ‘Eternal’ does not mean mere endless duration of human existence, but is a way of describing life as lived in the unending presence of God.
It describes the change in human existence that results from faith in Jesus. To have eternal life is to live life no longer defined by blood or by the will of the flesh or the human will BUT life defined by God.
God so loved the world. For John ‘the world’ often referred to those people who were at odds with Jesus and with God. ‘The world’ was as negative reference. ‘The world’ was that ungodly collection of humanity.
BUT here it’s a different story.
God so loved the world.
The unlovable and the unlovely.
The lonely who have no one else to love them
The person who loves God.
The person who never thinks of God
The person who rests in the love of God.
The person who spurns it.
The person we love deeply.
The person we think is impossible to love.
All are included in this vast inclusive love of God.
Augustine described this love in this way: ‘God loves each one of us as if there was only one of us to love.’ We simply call it GRACE.
In an old a Dennis the Menace cartoon, Dennis and his little friend Joey are leaving Mrs. Wilson’s house, their hands full of cookies.
Joey says, “I wonder what we did to deserve this.”
Dennis answers, “Look, Joey. Mrs. Wilson gives us cookies not because we’re nice, but because she’s nice.”
Hank Ketcham, creator of Dennis the Menace, has captured the whole concept of God’s Grace in that one little cartoon. It isn’t because of what we do, it’s because of God. And to put it as simply as possible, it’s because God loves us. That’s who God is and what God does. And God loves us so much that God sent Jesus.
The pole with the serpent on top had saving power only when the people looked upon it. Jesus said, “…so must the Son of Man be lifted up.” God’s unmerited, unconditional love is revealed to us inÂ Jesus who died on a cross for you and me. All we have to do is believe in him.
So “Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in his wonderful face, and the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of his glory and grace.”