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Jesus: Sent To Give Eternal Life! (John 3:14-21/Lent 4B)

March 18, 2012

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John 3:14-21


Jesus is a matter of life or death!


So why would anyone put Jesus on the shelf?  Blow Him off?  Many do!  They have more pressing issues things in life than to hang around and on to Jesus as if their eternal life or death depended on it!  Imagine that!  Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life and yet many give any and every excuse in order to stay away from Him!  As if this Jesus is a “whatever!”  Apathy!  Indifference!  Spiritual lethargy!  Some are little more than sympathetic spectators from afar.  Others have a little interest in Jesus as a religious teacher.  Some pull a Nicodemus.  Sneaking in under the cover of darkness so that their friends don’t see them talking to Jesus! 


Maybe Jesus only appeals to you as a guru who provides tidbits to cope with life’s troubles!  Would Jesus finally be of some use to you if He’d teach you how to loose that stubborn belly fat or lower your cholesterol?  Or is Jesus some kind of sideshow carnival act that piques your attention as long as He’s doing some whiz-bang miraculous signs?  All that can be dressed up as very pious!  Loaded with religious overtones!  Packed with what people call spirituality!  But it is not faith.


No faith in Jesus has horrific consequences!  Not just in the future!  But right now!  Yes, that’s right, right now!  Here’s what Jesus Himself categorically declares:  “But whoever does not believe [in Me] stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.”      


Did you catch that?  The “already” of being condemned?  If you don’t believe in Jesus right now you are “already,” right now, in the present, living under the wrath of God and His judgment of damnation!  Serious stuff!  Eternal life or death serious stuff!


Does God want that for you or for anyone?  Of course not!  But if you will not believe in Jesus, then you are condemned!  And it is your own fault!  YOUR OWN FAULT!  Not God’s!  Don’t go blaming Him for your unbelief!  Don’t blame God! We are bullish on “gratifying the cravings of your sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts,” which is all in the way of death!  Don’t blame God when we stubbornly desire to remain stone cold “dead in our transgressions and sins!”  We insist on keeping Jesus away!  We love the darkness and from drenching you and your sin with His Good Friday Blood and loving the darkness, then go ahead!  You will go to hell!  But not because God wanted it!  It will be because you did! 


And yet Jesus shows up!  Takes on our flesh!  Dwells right in the midst of us!  To give drench us and all our sin with His Good Friday Blood!  To raise the dead!  To give life!  Salvation!  This is precisely what Jesus is up to!  This is His cup of tea!  Listen again to Jesus:  “For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world but to save the world through Him.” 


Jesus – the Sent One — to SAVE the ungodly!  To justify the sinner!  To forgive the rebellious (Adam, you and me) who have wreaked havoc and chaos with our sin!  To redeem the world covered in the thick blanket of darkness of Adam’s sin!  Your sin!  My sin! 


The very same darkness that provides the grisly details of others sin on the 24-7-365-news cycle is at work in all of us!  In less flamboyant ways!  But it is still the exact same darkness at work in us all!  None of you have shot 16 people in cold blood while they slept but each of us have murdered many with our tongues, with our hate, and our inattention to help those in need!


To this world chock full of sinners who have forfeited God’s love and who love to live in the deep darkness of sin and death, the Light of Salvation has dawned!  Jesus has come!  Sent by the Father!  The jig is up for sinners!  The end of sin’s reign is over!  Death’s dominance is over!  Satan’s demonic sovereignty is reversed!  There’s a new Lord in town!  He has come to do something new!  To bestow forgiveness!  To resurrection the spiritually dead!  And to donate eternal life and salvation to sinners!  “God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son” INTO death.


So there He is!  Hanging on the cross!  Lifted up!  Suspended on a pole!  “Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up!”   For all to see!  For you to see!


The Son of Man, the only begotten of the Father is lifted up on that tree.  That tree is planted in the ground with Jesus hanging from it!  And the sermon is this:  “This is how much I love you!”  God’s love letter to you is signed with the Blood of Jesus dripping from His Body on the cross!   


And for you to believe!  “So that everyone who believes in him has eternal life.”  Not just in the future!  But here and now!  Right now!  All is reversed!  Turned on its head!    


How incredible!  Miracle of miracles!  Wonder of wonders!  The reign of God has come!  The winter of sin and death is over!  The spring of salvation is at hand!  Here!  Right now!  In the midst of the icy darkness of our death – our sin – our damnation, the warmth of Jesus Himself shines!  The Light of our salvation beams brightly!  He scatters the darkness and raises the spiritually dead!  Good Friday!  Calvary!  Lifted up!  For you to see!  And believe!   


Lifted up on the cross for you!  God’s gift of love is Jesus!  In Jesus He loves the unlovable!  He forgives the unforgiveable!  He flashes in the darkness!  In Jesus everything has changed!  Your sins are forgiven!  You who “were dead in your transgressions … by nature objects of God’s wrath” are now “made alive with Christ!” (Ephesians 2) 


God is not angry with you!  His wrath against you and all your sin has been satisfied in Jesus!  Because Jesus took all your sin!  Bore it all in His Body!  Suffered the complete fury of God’s wrath and all its damnation!  In your place!  Vicariously!  As your substitute!   Jesus gets in between God’s wrath and you.  He mediates.


God loves you!  Truly He does!  In, with, and under Jesus hanging on the cross!  That’s the clincher!  That’s how you know for sure!  His promise to you today is this:  “all who believe in Me will not perish but have eternal life.”


No need to be afraid!  Do not fear!  Believe!  Believe in Jesus!  Expose your sin and sinfulness to the light of His death and resurrection!  To the very truth of His forgiveness and promise of eternal life!  Use Jesus against all your sin!  Against Satan’s accusations!  Against death!  Against damnation!  


Brothers and sisters, here is the verdict from God! You are forgiven sinners!  Absolved because Jesus died for you!  Because He rose for you!  He has redeemed you lost and condemned sinners.


This is how much He loves you!  So much so that He even gives you His Good Friday Body and Blood in the Sacrament!  And He promises you once again that you are forgiven!  He who believes Jesus’ promise has exactly what He says:  the forgiveness of sins.  And where there is forgiveness of sins there is also life and salvation. You have eternal life by believing in Him!  Jesus says so!  Jesus promises! 


In the Name of Jesus.

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