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    Jun 03, 2018

    Lent 4B

    Passage: John 3:16

    Preacher: The Rev. Joan Mason, Rector

    Series: Rector

    Category: Weekly Sermon


    For God so loved the world; that He gave his only begotten Son to the end that all who believeth in Him should not perish; but have eternal life. (John 3:16)

    Sound familiar?

    Can you recite those lines, or remember when you first learned them?

    Growing up in a Christian home I cannot remember when I first heard John 3:16, but I know that I memorized it before it made any sense to me.

    I would spout these words, much like I did a moment ago--almost breathless--wanting to receive whatever trinket the Sunday School teacher would pass out.

    I was encouraged to memorize the words, but it was never, in my memory, explained to me what exactly this all meant.

    There is a good reason that most children are asked to memorize this verse.

    It encapsulates the Gospel message beautifully.

    God loved the world--even in its sinful state--so much that God actually sent God’s son to save us.

    Looking at this short but beautiful verse in its context helps us go from reciting it for a trinket, to taking the tentative steps of receiving it for life. 

    This verse was spoken by Jesus to Nicodemus.

    Remember, Nicodemus was the religious leader who came to Christ in the darkness of night to ask some questions, including how could a grown man be born again. 

    It was in response to Nicodemus’ questions about how to be saved that Christ says these words.

    To help him understand, Jesus tells him a familiar story about the Israelites and Moses in the desert.

    This is a story about sin and snakes and death. 

    Moses went to God on behalf of the people asking for a way for them to live in spite of their sin, and God provided a way. 

    If they followed God’s instructions, they would live. 

    All they had to do was look up – to the bronze serpent on the pole in the middle of the community. 

    As strange as it may sound, this is the story that Jesus chose to tell Nicodemus to explain the purpose of the Savior. 

    God sends Jesus to rescue us; to provide a way out for all who have been poisoned by the venom of sin and death. All of us have been poisoned by this same venom.

    We all have fallen short. We can’t help but complain. We can’t help but sin. 

    Praise God, we have been given a way out. 

    Jesus is telling us, look up. 

    Not to the serpent on a pole, but to Jesus who died on the cross for you.  

    This season of Lent is the perfect time to take a look at the sin in our lives; the bad choices we make; and how far away we may be from God. 

    We have a way out if we choose to take it – a way provided by God to guide us to life of love, of joy and peace, to light instead of darkness. 

    As our Savior, Jesus is the light of the world. 

    He brings light into our darkness. 

    Living in the light is amazing, and it is free, but it requires that we let go of everything and allow God full control of our lives.

    There is a temptation to not do this.

    Whether we care to admit it or not, we all have areas of our lives that we would rather keep in the shadows, or at least keep as dimly lit as possible.

    Things that we would rather not deal with, would rather not bring before God.

    Lent is the time to search our lives and our hearts for these shadow areas.

    What might you be holding back in your life from the light of Christ? 

    What areas need to be flooded with light? 

    Then let us use this season, through prayer and repentance – and bring these things to Jesus. 

    Come out of the shadows and step into His healing light.  

    God has given us a tremendous gift. 

    The gift of eternal life, of joy, of love!

    “For God so loved the world; that He gave his only begotten Son to the end that all who believe in Him should not perish; but have eternal life.”