This week, we come across an interesting place where our scriptures from the Hebrew and New Testament texts intersect in a really fascinating way. The people of God are grumbling….again! God’s love and mercy has led them out of Egypt…and they are making progress as they sojourn towards their home. It’s painful and slow to be sure. While grumbling and cursing God, the Israelites found some new inhabitants had occupied their camp with them and didn’t look like they had plans to leave. Their area becomes littered with slithery, poisonous snakes, and people are dying from getting bitten!
We find next that as they repented, their faith allowed them to live if they looked into a bronze serpent affixed to a pole that God instructed Moses to craft. God wants trust and obedience because God knows what’s best for the world God creates in.
When we jump to our gospel text, we encounter some words I dare say almost all of us know. John 3:16 - In the United States, it is by far the most famous verse in the Bible. Some have called it "the gospel in a nutshell." In a nighttime meeting with a Pharisee named Nicodemus, Jesus says, "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.” But he said so much more than just that one verse that gets a lot of attention. God reveals Godself through Jesus. But pay attention to the verses around verse 16:
John 3:14-17 NRSV
3:14 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.
God’s love for us is incredible and you matter-we as a body matter. God sent his very own Son as a means for us to be saved from living in darkness. God who made the stars, Mars, the Moon the Heavens and Earth has reached down to know the pain and brokenness of your life. Jesus Christ came into the world for this one reason…to seek and save the lost, hurting broken people of this world. You matter so much to God, that God not only made you, but bought you with a price, the price of his own son.
Pastor Michael Williams