Even before Tim Tebow came on the scene, just about every sports fan who has watched a game on TV has seen the fans with the sign – JOHN 3:16 – and even patted ourselves on the back that this is one verse we don’t have to look up. We know it by heart. And why not? It has rightly been referred to as THE GOSPEL IN A NUTSHELL.
God so loved the world – loves every one of us so much that God gave us The Way to be born again through His only begotten Son. God Himself as The vulnerable flesh and blood Christ makes it possible that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life in an eternal covenant relationship with God.
That’s truly THE GOSPEL IN A NUTSHELL – BUT THERE’S MUCH MORE. God loves every one of us so much that God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world – which He certainly could have done – He didn’t need to. We were all given consciences as part of being created in The Image of God and we all have God’s Word incarnate in Jesus Christ and inerrant in The Holy Bible. We know how worthy of God’s Condemnation we are.
And even apart from our consciences, we all have been blessed to have God’s Law - The Law that points out and convicts us of our sins and shows us how desperately we need what only God can give us.
We all know what sin is – otherwise why does our world today have a truly militant army of sinners among us who are proud of their sins and openly opposed to The Word of God – demanding that faithful and moral people support and even facilitate their sins as they triumphantly degrade and cheapen human life and adulterate the marriages and families God Himself created.
God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world which He certainly could have done. What God, in His Love for us, did was save us from our sin and the guilt, the alienation from God and the death our sins bring with them. Because of His perfect and all-consuming love for us God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order the world might be saved through Him.
Whoever believes in Jesus is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is already condemned – God does not need to pronounce the judgment now – all people know who we are. All who do not believe in Christ are already condemned because they have not believed in The Name of The Only Son of God - in The Name of The Only One Who alone is The Way to eternal relationship with God.
In the very first chapter of THE GOSPEL OF JESUS CHRIST ACCORDING TO ST JOHN, we read that “to all who did receive Jesus, who believed in His Name, He gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. All who believe in Jesus have been born again in Christ – born again in Holy Baptism.
Jesus told Nicodemus, “… as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man – The Christ - be lifted up (on a cross, crucified), that whoever believes in Him may have eternal life.”
God’s Power and God’s Wisdom far exceed our own – especially when human power and wisdom deny God’s Word. The idea that the figure of a snake raised up on a pole can save people from snake bites – the idea that blood on a doorpost can save believers’ lives while the lives of God’s enemies are destroyed by God – the idea that a Man suffering and dying on a criminal’s cross can bring about eternal Salvation – it’s all nonsense to those who are being destroyed, but it is God’s Power to those of us who are being saved. (1st CORINTHIANS 1:18)
Through God’s Wisdom and Power, Jesus had to truly be God for only God and God alone can give that gift of eternal Salvation. We are all sinners and the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (ROMANS 6:23) Only God and God alone can forgive us and give the gift of eternal life to sinners. Jesus had to truly be God.
Through God’s Wisdom and Power, Jesus also had to truly be man for only as a human being could Jesus live The Perfect Human Life and offer it up as The Perfect Sacrifice for our sins.
The answer lies in the Power and Wisdom of God and in God’s Faithfulness and Love — “For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.”
With no request, input, or accomplishment on our part, God created humanity and gave us the gifts of birth and life through our parents.
With no request, input, or accomplishment on our part, God entered the world as the vulnerable flesh and blood Christ to give us the gift of rebirth into eternal life through His suffering, death, and resurrection.
With no request, input, or accomplishment on our part, God sends His Holy Spirit to enlighten us and to give us the faith to believe in the gift and The Giver.
In a world of spiritual darkness – in the dead of night – Nicodemus came seeking that Enlightenment which only Jesus could give him. With Nicodemus, we know God The Father, The Son, and The Holy Spirit gives us the gift of life and then radically rebirths that life that we may live it eternally in Jesus Christ.
THE PEACE OF GOD WHICH PASSES ALL HUMAN UNDERSTANDING KEEP YOUR HEARTS AND YOUR MINDS IN CHRIST JESUS – THE ROOT AND FOUNDATION OF OUR LIVES NOW AND ETERNALLY. AMEN.
4th Sunday of Season of Lent
March 11, 2018
Dr. Kurt Borows
Pastor, Resurrection Lutheran Church, Catawba Island, Port Clinton, Ohio