*Text: John 3:1–17*
*Theme: This is the way*
*Other Lessons: *Genesis 12:1–9; Psalm 121; Romans 4:1–8, 13–17
1. *In the Name of the Father…Amen.*
1. *The Gospel lesson serves as our sermon text for this morning.*
1. *Grace, mercy, and peace be yours from God our heavenly Father
through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.*
1. *Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, let us pray:*
1. Merciful God, I claim that You sent Jesus to take away the sin of the
world. I am part of that sin. Help me to acknowledge that I
do things that
hurt other people, the creation, mankind, and You. Come into
my heart, Lord
God, and give me strength and courage to be less hurtful and
These things I pray in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy
1. *The Gospel in a nutshell. *
1. That’s what we know verse 16 from the 3rd chapter of St. John’s
Gospel to be.
2. It is, in many respects, the simplest and clearest expression
of who Jesus is and what he came to earth to do.
3. Quite simply, Jesus came to save the world.
4. Save the world from what?
5. Save the world:
1. from itself,
2. from Satan,
3. from sin, and
4. and from death.
1. *But here’s the problem, and it is one which Christianity has sought
to answer since Jesus rose from the dead and ascended into heaven. *
1. *If Jesus conquered death by his death on the cross, why, then, do we
*1. God conquered death through Moses and a bronze serpent.*
1. *In order to answer that question, we have to turn to the Book of
Numbers and look at the Old Testament people of Israel. *
1. The children of Israel in *Numbers chapter 21* are wandering in the
1. They are partway through forty years of wandering, where God teaches
them how to listen to his Word and trust that he will provide
for all their
needs, both physical and spiritual.
2. But the children of Israel are, well, they are dense, slow to
learn, and above all, they are rebellious.
3. They are so rebellious, in fact, that God sends serpents to go
and bite them.
4. Many of them died.
5. The wages of sin is death, as St. Paul reminds us.
6. Later in *Numbers 21* we hear these words:
– *7 So the people came to Moses and said, “We have sinned,
because we have spoken against the LORD and you; intercede
with the LORD,
that He may remove the serpents from us.” And Moses
interceded for the
1. Moses agreed, because he recognized their repentance, and that they
knew their sin and need for redemption.
1. So Moses prayed to God and God answered him by giving Moses
instructions on how to save the people.
2. The Lord said to Moses in *Numbers 21:8 (NASB95)*
– *8 “Make a fiery serpent, and set it on a standard; and it
shall come about, that everyone who is bitten, when he
looks at it, he will
3. So Moses does this.
– And you have to admit, this is rather . . . odd.
– Put a snake on a stick?
– Isn’t that snake the form that Satan took in the Garden of Eden?
– Yes, it is.
– And that is exactly the point.
1. *So two things really stand out in the episode from the people of
1. First: The form of their salvation and life isn’t much to look at.
1. A bronze serpent, not exactly something to give one a lot of hope.
2. That point we can see.
1. The second point is perhaps a little less obvious.
1. The snakes still come.
2. Nowhere in the text do we get Moses leading the snakes away
like the Pied Piper, sending them into the river to drown.
3. God didn’t take away the serpents.
4. He gave the people a way out, a way of salvation, so that even
though they were bitten, the bite did not kill them.
5. Whoever looked upon the bronze serpent in faith, that person in
*2. Now God is conquering death through Jesus.*
1. *Now fast-forward to Jesus speaking with Nicodemus in John’s Gospel.*
1. Jesus uses this event in the life of Israel to show Nicodemus how God
2. God works in the world like this.
1. He doesn’t take death away.
2. Not yet, at least.
3. What he does is send his Son into a world of death, so that he
dies in our place.
4. This is what we hear in verse 16:
1. *God loved the world this way: He gave his only Son so that everyone
who believes in him will not die but will have eternal life.*
1. *To whom did he hand Jesus over? *
1. He handed Jesus over:
1. to *sin, *
2. *death, *
3. *and Satan himself, *
4. the unholy trinity that makes up the evil we all live with each
and every day.
1. *This Is the Way God Loves the World.*
1. Jesus takes:
1. the punishment that you deserve,
2. gives you eternal life, which is his by nature,
3. and sets you up as kings and queens in his eternal kingdom.
1. All because God the Father hands him over to death.
*3. Thus the suffering and death we endure will not endure.*
1. *So for you here and now and today, beloved, you still suffer death
and the effects of sin. *
1. You get sick and injured.
2. Things don’t work as they ought to work as you would like.
3. The serpent still bites at your heels.
4. But Jesus Christ has crushed the head of that old evil foe.
5. By his death, he has destroyed death, so that what we endure and
suffer now is mere aftereffects, rumblings and grumblings from a foe that
has already lost but wants to drag as many down with him as he can.
1. *Make no mistake, dearly baptized children of God. *
1. You are Christ’s, and Satan cannot harm you.
2. Jesus does not come into the world to “tsk, tsk, tsk” at your
sins and failures.
3. He doesn’t come to shake his head and finger at you, urging you
to do better next time.
4. He doesn’t come to give you an example to shoot for, or a
target to reach.
5. His goals are much, much higher than that.
6. Remember again verse 17 from John 3:
1. *“For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world,
but in order that the world might be saved through him.”*
1. *Even though Jesus has died on the cross and risen again from the
dead, we still suffer the earthly effects of sin. *
1. We hurt, and we’ll still die, unless Jesus returns first.
2. But God is still loving you (John 3:16)!
3. Perhaps we should think of those lingering hurts as a wound
that’s in the process of healing.
4. As many of you know, I have had to deal with callouses and open
wounds on the bottom of my feet on a continual basis.
5. The doctor works to make it for the wounds to heal.
6. But the wounds will take time to heal.
7. We still live with the memories of the hurt.
8. But at the Last Day, even the scars will be healed.
9. The painful memories will no longer hurt like they once did.
10. That is something really to look forward to!
1. *This is God’s plan for you and for the entire world. *
1. He wants:
1. to save you,
2. to heal you,
3. to comfort you,
4. to love you,
5. and to give you hope that no matter how much the snake
bites, you may lift up your eyes and heart to the cross of
and in that cross, a symbol of shame as much as any
serpent, in that cross
you will find life—real, abundant life that has no end,
because he has no
1. *So come, blessed of God, and receive the gifts of the kingdom of
heaven prepared for you before the foundation of the world.*
1. Come and rejoice in his body and blood, and give thanks for all his
benefits, for the mercy of God endures forever. Amen.
1. *Let us pray:*
1. Merciful and loving God: when I am ungrateful, remind me of Your
grace. When I am oblivious, open my eyes. When I am harsh, gentle my
spirit. When I am apathetic, show me Your suffering children.
When I demean
myself, whisper that I am created in Your image. When I lose
all hope, show
me the empty tomb. Renew a right spirit within me. Shape me
and turn me
around, so that I will live with blessing and grace and
light. In the Name
of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, I pray. Amen.
1. *The peace of God, which transcends all understanding, guard your
hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.*
1. *In the Name of the Father…Amen.*