“What If You Believed?”
For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God sent the Son into the world, not to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him. (Jn 3:16-17)
People often hold up signs at major sporting events with John 3:16 written on them. One guy got kind of famous for it in the 70s and 80s. How do you think most people interpret that verse? Do they hold it up because they believe the verse communicates a requirement?
Is it a rule, a spiritual law?
Is this verse a threat? Do this or else?
Or is the verse a promise, pure gift?
Rarely do you see anyone holding up a sign that includes the next verse, John 3:17, For God sent the Son into the world, not to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him.
Whatever Nicodemus thought Jesus meant by these statements, something happened to this Pharisee after his encounter with Jesus that took place under the cover of darkness.
After the crucifixion, Nicodemus was there to help Joseph of Arimathea properly prepare the body of Jesus for burial. No law required Nicodemus to risk reputation and safety to offer this compassion for Jesus.
Maybe Nicodemus had finally stepped out of the darkness and into the light. Maybe he had come to understand that no law could guarantee his place in the kingdom of God.
Maybe Nicodemus was there because of love. For God so loved the world, that, Jesus. Nicodemus had looked that love in the eyes, and maybe that changed everything.
Questions to ponder or discuss:
Listen to the sermon from this Sunday. Along with the compelling story of Nicodemus, we take a look at the life changing power of being welcomed into the worshiping community. Watch for your own opportunity to invite someone into the presence of God.
See you in church!