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The Fourth Sunday In Lent
Series B

Option #1: "God's Gift of His Son"
John 3:14-21
Rev. Wayne Dobratz, B.A., 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

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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THE MESSAGE FOR CHILDREN

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 of Jesus hanging on the cross

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: "God is Pole-ish!"
Numbers 21:4-9
Rev. Kelly Bedard, B.A., M.Div.
 

 

Point: God's version of "the look" leads to Life and living.

 

Problem: We grow impatient with/by looking at/to God, speaking against Him and his messengers/message and providence.

 

Promise: God, having put Jesus on the pole of the cross, forgives our sins and, by the Holy Spirit, empowers us more and more to look and lead others to the cross.

 

Notes:

 

1. A literal translation of verse 4 could be "...their souls were short (much discouraged)," verse 5 "...our souls loathe this bread." Their/our souls are the issue. Could they/we be manna-ic? (c; Rejecting the heavenly manna is akin to rejecting God's grace!

 

2. Snakes preyed, Moses prayed!

 

3. I’ve a message from the Lord, ...the message unto you I’ll give;

    ’tis recorded in His Word, ...it is only that you “look and live.”

   

    Refrain: Look and live, O sinner, live, look to Jesus now and live.
   

    Life is offered unto you, ...eternal life your soul shall have,

    if you only look to Him, ...look to Jesus Who alone can save.

 

    I will tell you how I came...to Jesus, when He made me whole;
    'twas believing on His Name, ...I trusted and He saved my soul.

    William Ogden

 

 

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This page was revised on: Monday, November 13, 2006 12:05:18 PM