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Fourth Sunday In Lent
Series B

Option One: "God's Gift Of His Son"
John 3:14-21
Rev. Wayne Dobratz, M.Div.

I. Lifted up on the cross–John 8:28, 12:32, Ps. 22:16; Lk. 18:31-33; Acts 2:23 Romans 8:3-4.

II. Crushing the snake’s head in the dust–Gen. 3:15; Romans 16:20; Col. 2:15; Heb. 2:14-15; 1 John 3:8; Rev. 12:7-8; Rev. 20:10

III. Giving eternal life to all who believe–Isa. 45:22; Titus 3:4ff.; 1 John 4:9; Rom. 8:32; 1 Tim. 1:15-16; Heb. 12:2.

Title: Barnes Notes on the New Testament--John 3:14
"And as Moses—Jesus proceeds in this and the following verses to state the reason why he came into the world and, in order to this, he illustrates His design, and the efficacy of his coming, by a reference to the case of the brass serpent, recorded in Num. 21:8-9. The people were bitten by  fiery serpents. There was no cure for the bite. Moses was directed to make an IMAGE of the serpent, and place it in sight of the people, that they might look on it and be healed. There is no evidence that this was intended to be a TYPE of the Messiah, but it is used by Jesus as strikingly illustrating his work. Men are sinners. There is no cure by human means for the maladies of the soul; and as the people who were bitten might look on the image of the serpent and be healed, so may sinners look to the Savior and be cured of the moral maladies of our nature."

Lifted up—Erected on a pole. Placed on high, So that it might be seen by the people.
The serpent—The image of a serpent made of brass.
In the wilderness—Near the land of Edom. In the desert and desolate country to the south of Mount Hor, Num. 21:4.
Even so—In a similar manner and with a similar design. He here refers, doubtless, to his own death. Compare John 12:32; 8:28. The points of resemblance between his being lifted up and that of the brass serpent seem to be these:

1.In each case those who are to be benefited can he aided in no other way. The bite of the serpent was deadly, and could be healed only by looking on the brass serpent; and sin is deadly in its nature, and can be removed only by looking on the cross.

2.The mode of their being lifted up. The brass serpent was in the sight of the people. So Jesus was exalted from the earth raised on a tree or cross.

3.The design was similar. The one was to save the life, the other the soul; the one to save from temporal, the other from eternal death.

4.The manner of the cure was similar. The people of Israel were to look on the serpent and be healed, and so sinners are to look on the Lord Jesus that they may be saved.
Must—It is proper; necessary; indispensable, if men are to be saved. Compare Luke 24:26; 22:42.
The Son of man—The Messiah.

Title: Barnes Notes on the New Testament: John 3:16 For God so loved—God hates wickedness, but he still desires the happiness of those who are sinful. "He hates the sin, but loves the sinner." A parent may love his child and desire his welfare, and yet be strongly opposed to the conduct of that child. When we approve the conduct of another, this is the love of complacency; when we desire simply their happiness, this is the love of benevolence.
The world—All mankind. It does not mean any particular part of the world, but man as man—the race that had rebelled and that deserved to die. See John 6:33; 17:21. His love for the world, or for all mankind, in giving his Son, was shown by these circumstances:

1.All the world was in ruin, and exposed to the wrath of God.

2.All people were in a hopeless condition.

3.God GAVE his Son. Man had no CLAIM on him; it was a gift—an undeserved gift.

4.He gave him up to extreme sufferings, even the bitter pains of death on the cross.

5.It was for all the world. He tasted "death for every man," Heb. 2:9. He "died for all," 2 Cor. 5:15. "He is the propitiation for the sins of the whole world," 1 John 2:2.
That he gave—It was a free and unmerited gift. Man had no claim: and when there was no eye to pity or arm to save, it pleased God to GIVE his Son into the hands of men to die in their stead, Gal. 1:4; Rom. 8:32; Luke 22:19. It was the mere movement of love; the expression of eternal compassion, and of a desire, that sinners should not perish forever.

His only-begotten Son— This is the highest expression of love of which we can conceive. A parent who should give up his only son to die for others who are guilty if this could or might be done—would show higher love than could be manifested in any other way. So it shows the depth of the love of God, that he was willing. to give his only Son into the hands of sinful men that he might be slain, and thus redeem them from eternal sorrow.

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John 3:14-15 "Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life." (NIV)

VISUAL AIDS: Toy snake/photo       Cross Picture

I brought along a friend(?) this morning that you might not like too much. Yeah, I know, I don’t like them either, even the garter snakes you’ll find on the Lawn.
I brought him along so that he can help us all understand what Jesus had to do to save us from our sins. Jesus said: Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.

Most of us don’t know what Jesus was talking about, so I’ll fill you in on it. The people were in the desert and they started complaining about the food God was giving them. It got so bad that God sent poisonous snakes to bite them. Some of them died. Others asked Moses to pray for them and God gave Moses the answer. "Make a snake out of metal and put it on a pole; whoever looks at and believes that he will be healed will not die from the snake bite." That’s what Moses did and it worked!
Jesus used that as a picture of this (his cross). The people of Jesus’ time felt the same way about the cross that many of us feel about snakes. The cross was the worst way to die they could think of. It brought pain and death, just like the snakebite.

If you were bitten by a rattlesnake, the Doctor would give you a shot for the poison. The Bible says that we became sinful when the Devil looked like a snake and talked our first parents into sinning. We’ve all been sinful ever since. But Jesus says that when we look at his cross, we have the ANTIDOTE for sin and death. Jesus said: "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."

I will never like snakes, but it’s nice to know that the Doctors can cure snakebite. It’s even better to know that when we look at Jesus hanging on the cross, believing that he died for our sins, we have eternal life. And that’s the best gift of all.

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Option #2: "Pole-ish Theology"
John 3:14-21
Rev. Kelly Bedard, M.Div.

A. Judgmentalism

    1. Condemning believers who are unrepentant and live wayward lives

    2. Human beings trying to piece together the puzzle of the incongruities of life

B. Judgment
    1.  Believers who live in daily repentance and amendment of life are not condemned

    2. God piecing together the puzzle of Life with The Congruency: Jesus!

1. Going with the flow isn't necessarily a good thing. It all depends upon where the flow is going. Things can seem to be going just fine but, ultimately, end up in the proverbial sewer. Not so with faith in God! Though oftentimes we are in rough waters, we always know the/our destination: eternal life with The Water of Life in heaven.

2. The created order reveals God's power and majesty but does not offer an overall plan from God. (Gary Schaper)

3. krino {kree'-no}, v17: separate, put asunder, to pick out, select, choose; to approve, esteem, to prefer; to be of opinion, deem, think, to be of opinion; to determine, resolve, decree; to judge, to pronounce an opinion concerning right and wrong; to be judged, i.e., summoned to trial that one's case may be examined and judgment passed upon it; to pronounce judgment, to subject to censure; of those who act the part of judges or arbiters in matters of common life or pass judgment on the deeds and words of others; to rule, govern; to preside over with the power of giving judicial decisions, because it was the prerogative of kings and rulers to pass judgment; to contend together, of warriors and combatants; to dispute in a forensic sense; to go to law, have suit at law. (Strong's)

4. Judging actions and/or people? (Thomas Hesselgrave)

5. There is a "separation," but it is created by believing or not believing. I think this may be similar to the process of removing inactive members. The congregation council is given the task of moving "active" members to an "inactive" list. However, is it really the council who does this, or the member who is inactive? The council, as I look at it, is simply being honest. The truth is, those members have "separated" themselves from the "congregation" (literally, "those who have gathered together") by their actions of not gathering together with them. They make themselves inactive. The council just states the obvious. This same idea is in the Greek word ekklesia, for "church" or "assembly". It referred only to those who had assembled. Those who stayed home or went somewhere else were not part of the ekklesia.

Although I don't think that it is as true as it used to be, over 20 years ago a group of pastors had a conversation about church with four young adults (early 20's) who were going through alcohol rehab. Every one of these young adults had experienced the church as a place of judgment. They felt the judgment through looks and/or comments that indicated that others didn't like the length of their hair or the style of clothing they were wearing. Congregations can be very judgmental institutions--which, according to this text, is not Jesus' job--nor should it be ours. (Paul does talk about judging other church members, but that's a different text and situation.) (Brian Stoffregen)

6. Here is perhaps the second greatest truth of scripture. It is not God who condemns us--it is we who condemn ourselves when we turn away from God... The more we feed the snake, the more it bites us. (Jerry Goebel)

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This page was revised on: Friday, January 20, 2006 12:10:33 PM