Home Church Devotional 10/29/2020
These devotionals were written during the 2020 Covid-19 pandemic when area churches were not allowed to meet for fear of spreading the coronavirus. They were used in place of a full sermon as my family and I gathered for worship and communion.
“If I told you earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you heavenly things? No one has ascended into heaven, but He who descended from heaven: the Son of Man. As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up; so that whoever believes will in Him have eternal life. “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.”
John 3:12-18 (NASB)
How many of us, if receiving bad news from our doctor, would quickly seek a second opinion? Of course, we would believe our doctor, but we also want confirmation that what has been diagnosed is actually the truth. We want expert opinions and guidance in matters of our health and maintaining our lives. Yes, we believe what they tell us; yes, they are the expert and yes, we want that confirmation to put our minds at ease in difficult situations. Our passage is found in the middle of a conversation John has recorded between Jesus and Nicodemus, a Pharisee who has come to Jesus by night seeking confirmation that He is truly the Son of God.
Jesus is the only One who is uniquely qualified to speak about heaven – His authoritative message is based on personal experience. Jesus can speak of Moses in the desert, lifting up the serpent as a foreshadowing of what is to come – His death and resurrection – because He was there as it happened. Jesus can speak of salvation because He has come as the Passover Lamb of God to take away the sin of the world. As Israel looked up to the serpent, so too those who look up to Jesus find salvation in Him.
Satan is a defeated enemy, cursed from the beginning. The serpent lifted upon the pole symbolized the defeat of Satan. Christ became a curse for all people. We find healing for our sinful condition by looking upon the Son of Man who has been lifted upon the cross. Those who look upon, who believe in Jesus, find, not just life, but eternal life. In this way we find salvation in Christ alone, not the works of man or in the goodness of our character, not in the second opinion of another god, but in Christ alone.
Three times in verses 13-18 the phrase “believe in Him” is used. In this context the phrase is used to describe the proper response of anyone who has contact with Jesus. Believe comes from the Greek word that means faith, in this passage faith means to have a firm faith; to accept trustfully; to be fully convinced; to place confidence in; to wholeheartedly accept. We face danger when we emphasize belief alone, belief without an object is just wishful thinking. The importance of a Christian’s faith is not the believer, but in the One believed. As believers we anchor our faith – our trust – in Jesus Christ, who identified Himself as truth.
Jesus makes a shocking statement when He says, “God so loved the world.” God’s love is not for any one group of individuals – it is for the entire world! God’s love is not static, stagnant or self-centered – it reaches out and draws others in. God’s love sets the standard. The actions of God’s love defines the pattern of love in all relationships – when you love someone, you are willing to sacrifice anything for that person…including your most precious possession. This is sacrificial love – it is expresses itself without assurance that love will be returned.
Sacrificial love seeks to meet the needs of others in practical ways. God’s love sets out to rescue those who have no hope of rescuing themselves. God’s love was costly, His salvation came with a steep price tag – the life of His only Son – Jesus Christ. This salvation is offered to any who will believe – who accept trustfully, who are fully convinced – in His Son, Jesus Christ. Jesus accepted punishment on our behalf – He paid the price for our sin so we would not perish – spend eternity apart from God, but rather, enjoy eternal life with God!
Have you heard the One uniquely qualified to speak of heaven calling out to you? Have you come to the point in life where you are ready to believe in Jesus? That is, are you developing a firm faith in Jesus, ready to accept trustfully, fully convinced that Jesus is the only way to eternal life. Are you ready to place your confidence in Christ Jesus? God’s love is available for all those who believe in His Son, Jesus Christ. Come to Jesus today and find the peace you are seeking in a world filled with chaos.
If you already know Jesus, does God’s love set the standard of lave in all your relationships? Do you love unconditionally with sacrificial love knowing there is no guarantee that love with be returned? God has called those who profess His Son to a higher standard. We are to go the extra mile in sharing the love of God found in Christ Jesus. As the old 70’s song goes, “What the world needs now is love sweet love!” And you, followers of Jesus, have the sweetest of love known to all people!
It is never too late to experience the love of God found in Christ Jesus; love that makes eternal life, spent with God the Father, possible even now. Come to Jesus and find rest for your souls.
Amen and Amen.