God so loved the world that he did for it, and for us, these six things.
God so loved the world
A sermon by Pastor Bob
March 11, 2012
Text: John 3:14-21
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. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.
–If you could pick one favorite verse from the Bible, what would it be?
–When I ask this of people, I often hear John 3:16.
–It is a great verse.
–Some say it is the gospel in a nutshell.
–But it is not mere doctrine or desire.
–It is not a flash out of the blue on the way to the cross.
–It is part of a love story older than time.
–For God has always so loved the world that …
—he created life
–God created this world, this universe and all that is in it.
–God created all the creatures, including us.
–And God declared his creation good.
–God then called upon humans to be caretakers of God’s creation.
–But the caretakers forgot the one who created them, the one who gave them a world to take care of in the first place.
–The caretakers mistook themselves as owners, and not just owners of this world, but owners of their own destiny.
–The story of Adam and Eve speaks of this so well when the serpent tempts them with the words, “If you do this you will be like God.”
–This self-deception of believing that we are not dependent creatures of God but independent creators of our own destiny is called sin.
–It is in essence to separate ourselves from God.
–It is to say “we don’t need God,” for ultimately in our self-absorption we believe ourselves to be God.
–With God being the source of all life, separation literally means death and so humanity has gone through many generations of folks being born, living, dying…killing.
—he chose a people
–God had through the years extended relationship to many—people but to Abraham, God extended a promise.
–Abraham and his wife Sarah were inhabitants of ancient Mesopotamia.
–And to them, God said, “I will make of you a great nation…and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”
–And so God chose a people and it would be through these people that God would so love the world.
–And through the descendents of Abraham and Sarah a nation arose, but soon found itself enslaved in the land of Egypt and its Pharaohs.
–God heard their groans, and God remembered his promise.
–Through Moses, God called his chosen people out of their bondage in Egypt and into the wilderness.
–The great Exodus.
–But this was a time of trial for God’s chosen people.
–And it was in the wilderness that God showed them that they were still God’s creatures.
–Dependent upon God not only for food, water and shelter, but for live-giving worship.
–Yet, like all people before them and after, they murmured and rebelled, and they struggled against such an arrangement.
–So it was also a time of unfaithfulness, of serpents and poles and as always, divine patience.
—he gave the law
–God gave his chosen people laws to live by:
–Laws of many kinds, but chiefly 10 commandments that speak not only of how we are to treat each other
–But of how dependent we are upon our relationship with God.
–In essence, God’s laws show us that how we live together is dependent upon how we live with God…
–Finally, after 40 years in the wilderness, God’s chosen people reached the promised land.
–And if there was temptation in the wilderness, it was one-hundred-fold in the land that would be called Israel.
–In this promised land, there was the temptation to worship everything but God and so God gave them Judges to help them manage their affairs and to keep them faithful.
–Like in Egypt, the chosen people of God grew into a nation and now they sought what all the nations around them had: political power.
–They wanted a king.
–They wanted a ruler who would lead them in conquering the peoples around them and create a great state.
–And so briefly there was a line of kings, some good, some bad, but instead of bringing God’s chosen people together, they ultimately split them apart.
–For in wanting kings, they forgot who was truly their King: God.
–Again, like a broken record or more appropriately today, a scratched CD (or a bad iTunes download?), God’s people forgot that God was God and they were not.
—he spoke through the prophets…
–God never gave up on a world that consistently rejected him.
–Amidst political and national disaster, and much of Israel being carried off into exile—into another wilderness, if you will.
–These prophets spoke. They said:
–God’s promises were sure, God’s love eternal.
–Of these people God would bless the world.
–Of these people a true king would arise.
–And of these people, this king would be the savior of all people.
—he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life
–Out of God’s chosen people came a man named Jesus.
–He was an unexpected Messiah, an unexpected king.
–He did not seek power over others.
–But rather, he served them.
–He did not seek to possess the world, for he knew the world was God’s.
–He did not seek after other gods, for he knew only one God.
–Whereas the world sought to be divine, to be like God
–Jesus sought to be truly human.
–For Jesus was the Son of God, God incarnate in the flesh.
–How does God love a world that seeks to replace him, to essentially eliminate God with self?
–God allowed it to happen, and it happened on a cross, the most torturous and shameful death imaginable.
–God so loved the world that God gave God’s self in Jesus as a light to a world of darkness.
–A light that could not be overcome, even in death.
–And so God raised Jesus from the dead, and in doing so gave us the opportunity for new life with God.
–A new life lived today, tomorrow and into eternity.
—he loves you
–Each of you are God’s child.
–Not for what you have done or not done, but because God created you, died for you, and, most of all, loves you.
–Though sin sometimes deadens us to this reality, God will never give up on us.
–Our baptisms mark this determination of God’s, as we are sealed by God’s Holy Spirit and marked with cross of Christ forever.
–And in our daily walk with God and our struggles in the wilderness of this world, we can be assured of God’s grace and God’s promise that we will never be separated from the love of God.
Every Sunday morning you will find published here notes for the sermon my friend Pastor Bob will that morning be giving at the church he serves in San Diego.