Text – John 3:14-21:
14 And just 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, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.
17 “Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. 18 Those who believe in him are not condemned; but those who do not believe are condemned already, because they have not believed in the name of the only Son of God.
19 And this is the judgment, that the light has come into the world, and people loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil. 20 For all who do evil hate the light and do not come to the light, so that their deeds may not be exposed. 21 But those who do what is true come to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that their deeds have been done in God.”
We looked at the Numbers 21 text on March 15, but Jesus claims the saying to explain to Nicodemus what is going to happen to him (Jesus). The statement is two fold: Jesus is the solution to the predicament of mankind, and the manner of Jesus’ death will symbolically be like the serpent being lifted up in the wilderness to heal those who were bitten by vipers.
Jesus’ statement also sets forth the involvement that God has in the world’s redemption. “God so loved the world that God GAVE God’s only son so that everyone who believes in him might be saved…” There have been folks who have characterized God as angry and vengeful, but Jesus paints an entirely different picture of his Father – generous, loving, compassionate.
Lent gives us a glimpse into the kindness of God as we meditate on our failings as humankind and God’s utter willingness to reach down in Jesus to redeem us.
Dear Father, In the darkness of winter and the world of which we are a part, we give thanks for the light that you shine that both illuminates our way and also brightly shines toward the cross and also the empty tomb beyond it. Help us this Lenten morning to reflect on the deep love you have for us as seen in Jesus being lifted up to draw us to himself. In Jesus’ name I pray this. Amen.