Reading: John 3:11-17
Verse 16: “For God so loved the world …”
Continuing today in John 3 we again enter the conversation between Jesus and Nicodemus. Because of Nicodemus’ confusion, Jesus draws upon an example that Nicodemus would know well. Jesus was a good teacher. He reminds Nicodemus of an event early in Israel’s time in the wilderness experience. Sin had brought death once again. The people grumbled and tested God and Moses. God sent poisonous snakes into camp. Many died. Lesson learned. Yet some snakes remained. God directed that a golden snake be made and placed upon a pole. Looking at this image would save those who were bitten.
In verse 16 Jesus says, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” God came in the flesh to be that which would save us from sin and death. To look to Jesus as Savior will lead to life – and not just to life here but also to eternal life. Further connecting to the Old Testament story, Jesus tells Nicodemus that God sent his son to save the world, not to condemn it. No poisonous snakes this time. The price for our sin will be paid by Jesus on the cross.
Funny thing about the snake. Eventually it became an idol and had to be destroyed. In our churches and in our faith we too can have idols. And we can try and shape Jesus into the image that we prefer. Unwritten rules and expectations that people be and act like us can make people feel unwelcome. As an example of how these two ideas can combine, ever since the first artwork of Jesus was created we’ve known that Jesus was from the Middle East. We still know it today. Yet Jesus was made into the dominant group’s image. Today I am wrestling with the images of Jesus in our church. I don’t want them to be a stumbling block to anyone. Here’s the question I’m wrestling with: What would a person of color think and feel as they walk in and see blonde-haired, blue-eyed Jesus?
Prayer: Lord, Lent is a season of wrestling. Today you’ve brought the wrestle to my heart. Lead me and guide me, O Great Jehovah, even if it’s uncomfortable, even if it’s unpopular. Amen.
Very truly I tell you, we speak of what we know, and we testify to what we have seen, but still you people do not accept our testimony. I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things? No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven—the Son of Man. Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.” For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. John 3:11-17 NIV https://bible.com/bible/111/jhn.3.11-17.NIV