Text: John 3:14-21
14 Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so must the Human One i be lifted up 15 so that everyone who believes in him will have eternal life. 16 God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him won’t perish but will have eternal life. 17 God didn’t send his Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through him. 18 Whoever believes in him isn’t judged; whoever doesn’t believe in him is already judged, because they don’t believe in the name of God’s only Son.
-Common English Bible
- The gospel for this Sunday contains one of the most well known passages in the Bible, John 3:16. But that passage is part of a larger passage that recounts an earlier experience in the life of the people of Israel. Numbers 21:4-9 talks about the time the Israelites were afflicted with snakes. Moses sets up a bronze snake that could save people from the poinsonous venom if they looked at the bronzed creature. The following is from Lutheran theologian Sarah Henrich:
The purpose of God’s having sent the Son was to save the world, just as the purpose of commanding Moses to erect a serpent on a pole was to save the people from death. The son came to save, to grant eternal life because God loved the world. That was Jesus’ announcement. I’m here because the God who loved you of old, still does. He sent me to tell you, to show you, to gather you up into life with him forever.
Why do you think God sent Jesus into the world? What does eternal life mean?
- The cross is the symbol of Christianity. It was method of execution used by the Romans. What does it mean that the cross is used as symbol of Christian faith? Is this a good thing? In a sermon I preached in 2009, is the following passage:
God has healed us, all of us. The cross remind us that not only that something is not right in the world, but that God is doing something about this. As a community of faith, we are called to go and tell people that they are loved by God. There is nothing that they have to do to earn God’s love, because it is by God’s grace that they are loved. We have a story to tell.
What do you think the cross means? What does it say about God? What does it say about you?
We want to ask, “What was Jesus’ intent here?” But maybe that’s the wrong question. Maybe this enigmatic passage acts as a mirror to show us our own faults, biases, and prejudices.