Tuesday, October 20, 2015

some verses should get more TV time

The Word for today:
John 2:23 -- 3:21
John 3:16 is the Bible's most famous verse. In fact, people who don't know the words of John 3:16 know the reference: "John 3:16," seen in stadiums and arenas, on TV screens all over the place. Most people, at the very least, have the vague sense that it's biblical.
But let's forget John 3:16 for a while in order to concentrate on its context, the verses surrounding it which frame its meaning.
In 3:14-15 we hear Jesus the Teacher, again using pictures from the Old Testament -- as he did in chapter one -- to demonstrate the way to salvation:
"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."
Jesus is referring to Numbers 21:8-9, when God told Moses to fasten a bronze serpent to a pole--and that the people should look to it, in order to escape a plague.
Q. But isn't a snake a symbol of evil?
A. Yes.
Q. So we look at a symbol of evil and we are saved?
A. No. We are looking at a picture of Jesus on the cross.
Q. I'm confused. Jesus isn't evil!
A. Listen very carefully to 2 Corinthians 5:21:
"God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God."
Jesus on the pole (the cross) became sin for us. So the snake in Numbers 21 is a picture of the exchange which saved my soul. He became my sin and I became his righteousness.
Q. That's wild!
A. That's the plan. Jesus--see 3:16--is God's plan. Nothing else would do.
Let's move to John 3:17 for further context:
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.
Q. So the Bible says Jesus will not condemn!
A. It certainly does. But carefully note the next verse in your Bible:
Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.
Q. 'Condemned already'?
A. Right. And Jesus won't waste words condemning what is already condemned. Therefore, a person does not have to reject Jesus Christ to be lost. He is lost already, because he is a sinner.
Q. So John 3:14-18 shows that God condemned Himself so we could be with him.
A. Not only with him, but like him.

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