Saturday, March 21, 2015

John 3:14-21 (ESV)

14 “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, 15 that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.

16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. 19 And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. 20 For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. 21 But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.”

John 3:16 is one of the most popular verses in the Bible. Many people who are not Christians can even quote this verse. For many this is the quick answer to what we believe as Christians. The more we look at this passage as a whole we see that belief is both an internal and external endeavor. Our works , actions, indicate our beliefs whether light or dark. For light, our works indicate our faith and belief in Christ. Believers are no longer condemned but saved through Jesus who died for those who believe, those who have “come to the light.”

On the other side is the darkness, the ways of the world. This darkness is represented by those who are condemned, condemned due to disbelief in Christ. As a result what is done is not a product of the work of God but of the world. This can be very hard to process because there are many people who seem to do good things who are not believers. This is where God’s judgment of all things is far more developed than our own and we must release our sense of judgment of right and wrong, true and untrue, and trust in the God who saves us.

Heavenly Father, may I walk in the light of your truth and your ways. Thank you for giving your Son to save us from condemnation. May I find peace and rest in your truth and your word, and may my light shine before all people. In Christ’s name, Amen.


Saturday, March 22, 2014

John 3:16-17 (ESV)

16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.  17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.”

How many times have you encountered John 3:16?  It must be one of the most recognized pieces of Scripture, if not the most recognized.

And so it should be!  After all, it contains the heart of the Gospel—God loves the world; so much so that he sent his only Son to save it (v. 17).  And we are not just spectators here—if we really believe that God sent his Son to save the world, we won’t perish when we die.  Instead, we will enjoy eternal life!

Wow:  sixty-six books of the Bible condensed into two sentences!  God certainly gave St. John a way with words.

So—do you believe it?  Well, of course you do!  You wouldn’t be reading these words if you didn’t believe it, or at least were attracted to it.  Maybe you’ve heard John 3:16 since you were a child; maybe it was the first piece of scripture you memorized.

So—does John 3:16 bring you peace?  Well, it can!  Do you recall Jesus’ words to his disciples when he first appeared to them in the Gospel according to John?  It was “Peace be with you” (John 20:19b).  As we all know, Jesus is God’s Son who saved the world, the One we are to believe in.  If we believe in Jesus, we will not perish.  Instead, we will enjoy eternal life!

And this is the good news!

Right now, your life may not be filled with peace.  Perhaps your life resembles the disciples’ lives when Jesus first appeared to them.  They were filled with fear and anxiety on that day; things had gone terribly wrong.  Death was near; all seemed lost.

And then their Eternal Life appeared to them, offering . . . peace.

Lord, let the peace of your eternal presence engulf us.

Friday, March 21, 2014

John 3:1-15 (ESV)

1 Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews.  This man came to Jesus by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him.”  Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.”  Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old?  Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?”  Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.  That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.  Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’  The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”

Nicodemus said to him, “How can these things be?”  10 Jesus answered him, “Are you the teacher of Israel and yet you do not understand these things?  11 Truly, truly, I say to you, we speak of what we know, and bear witness to what we have seen, but you do not receive our testimony.  12 If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you heavenly things?  13 No one has ascended into heaven except he who descended from heaven, the Son of Man.  14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, 15 that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.

This passage is one of the most unforgettable conversations in the Gospel of John.  Nicodemus, a Pharisee, comes to Jesus seeking understanding of Jesus’ purpose.  Jesus proceeds to instruct Nicodemus on the power of the Holy Spirit.  The message is a simple one.  One must be “born again” in order to enter the Kingdom of God.  When a person is “born again,” they are touched by the Spirit in a powerful way, which changes them for the rest of their life.  In this conversation, Jesus tells Nicodemus that the wind (pneuma) blows where it wishes and those who have not been born again hear it, but do not know where it comes from or where it goes (3:8).  Only a person who is truly “born again of the spirit” can understand this calling.  Our perspective changes when we are born again in the Spirit (Pneuma).  We begin to see things in a different way from the way we formerly saw them.  We begin to treat others differently – more kindly and more lovingly (agape).  We no longer think only about ourselves, but, instead, about the body of Christ.  More importantly, we come into a new relationship with God.  Our faces are willingly turned into the wind and it blows away everything that stands between us and God.  Leo Zanchettin tells us this:  “…those born of the Spirit are equipped with a new source of life, a share in the very life of God.  Through the Spirit, they have a new relationship with God.”[1]

Are you willing to turn your face into the wind?

Heavenly Father, breathe upon us your spiritual wind.  Turn us, Lord, so that we are changed and come into a new relationship with you.  Make us more like you every day, so that we may come into your Eternal Kingdom.  Amen.

[1] Zanchettin, Leo (2012-05-23). John: A Devotional Commentary (Kindle Locations 420-421). The Word Among Us Press. Kindle Edition.