We cannot watch a sports event on TV without seeing someone hold up a sign like this JOHN 3:16. It is instantly recognizable – simple; - elegant even- in its message - “For God so loved the world that he gave his only son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish, but have eternal life.”
This is a joyful message. We should - and do celebrate - that God wants us to be with him - because he loves us so much, sacrificing himself ,through his Son: to bring us into heaven with him for all time.
This is a message we should be passing on every day to all we everyone in the world. By our life, we are to reflect this message; reminding everyone of God’s love for us. As disciples, we all are messengers of the Light, Jesus, the Christ, called to share the Light with the world.
But in this message is a warning too. It is not a neutral message, - a message without consequences – we cannot see it as a “take-it-or-leave-it” kind of message.
We are warned - that if we do not believe in the Christ, we will not share in God’s love, live in God’s peace or bask live in God’s grace, - but will suffer death, and eternal damnation ,to live where no Light exists, only darkness - forever and ever.
For John the world was a place filled with darkness. It was a forbidding place – a world:
W Without hope -
W without peace -
W without justice -
W without love –
W without salvation –
W a place without the Light -
(It is) a world without Jesus, the Christ – who was to bring Light into the world.
The children of this world loved the darkness:
W Darkness hid their crimes,
W Darkness hid their evil worships,
W Darkness hid their deceptive practices,
W Darkness hid their hate,
W In Darkness they could be selfish
W In Darkness they satisfied their wonton desires
W In Darkness they lived sinful lives
John wanted the disciples of Christ to leave this dark world – He wanted them to live in a world filled with light, - the Light of Christ - He wanted them to be Light – dispelling the dark –
W Light overcoming the darkness, -
W Light overcoming sin –
W Light bringing peace,
W The Light of justice,
W The Light of love –
W The light of Christ - leading to salvation and Life eternal.
Just as Moses lifted up the serpent, so that those who were bitten could look up - believe in the power of God - and live, -- so too for us - is Christ lifted up on the cross, - so we too may look, believe and have Life eternal.
This Lenten season, a season of reflection and repentance is also a season of filled with expectation and hope. Unlike the disciples of Jesus’ time, we, disciples today know the end of the Jesus story, which is really the beginning of the Eternal story. We know that on Easter Sunday Jesus will overcome death, - overcome sin; - bringing Light into the world – bringing life eternal to all who believe in him.
W We know that he is raised up on the third day.
W We know that the stone is rolled away from the mouth of the tomb and the burial clothe is found empty.
W We know that Jesus appears again to the 12 – showing his wounds and bringing his Spirit into the world.
W We know all this comes to pass and it is the truth.
Jesus was lifted up on the Cross for all to see - and believe – bringing us out of the darkness to become children of the Light.
W So as we come nearer to Easter, let us look up to Jesus on the Cross and - be lifted up in the grace of God’s love and mercy; turning away from sin, deception and darkness to live in the Light of Christ
W Let us look up to Jesus on the Cross and - be lifted up in the joy of the Resurrection; proclaiming the Good News of Salvation through our Lord Jesus to all the world
W Let us look up to Christ on the Cross and - be lifted up by the Glory of God – who, in his great love for us, sent his only Son, so we may have Life eternal