Jesus Can 2007
Part 1: Jesus Can Save Me!
Sermon by Rick Crandall
McClendon Baptist Church - Jan 21, 2007
*Many of you know Andrew Whitworth, because he grew up here, and played football for West Monroe and LSU. Now Andrew is a 6’7”, 330 pound offensive lineman for the Cincinnati Bengals. Think I could be an offensive lineman for the Cincinnati Bengals? Not a chance. At this point I couldn’t be an offensive lineman for the Kiroli (Elementary School) Comets!
*There are so many things that we can’t do in life, but Jesus can. Over the next few weeks we are going to exalt Jesus by exploring some of the great things He can do in our lives. And today we will see that Jesus can save me!
1. Jesus can save me. How does He do it? First, by giving me His love.
*As vs. 16 says, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”
*God loves us with a love like no other! God’s love is so wrapped up in Him, it is such an essential part of His character, that 1 John 4:8 tells us that God is love. God the Father loved you enough to send His only begotten Son into the world. What a sacrifice! -What could have been more dear to the Father than His only Son?
*And Jesus has the love of God for you too, because He is the Son of God. The Lord helps us see this in vs. 13. Listen to this verse from the Amplified Bible,
-“No one has ever gone up to heaven, but there is One Who has come down from heaven -- the Son of Man [Himself], Who (has His home) in heaven.”
*God the Son, Jesus Christ loves you so much that He was willing to leave His home in Heaven and come into this world to die on the Cross for you. The Lord took the punishment for all of your sins when He was lifted up on that Cross.
*Jesus was pointing to the Cross in vs. 14&15, when He said, “As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.” Jesus said that the Son of Man must be lifted up. The Lord was reminding us that there was no other way for men to be saved. And the only one in the whole universe who could make that sacrifice for us did make that sacrifice for us, because He loves us.
*Jeffrey Ebert will always see a picture of that sacrificial love in his own mother. It happened many years ago when Jeffrey was 5, and they were in a horrendous wreck. This was long before cars had seat belts and air bags.
-Jeffrey’s family was driving home that night on a two-lane country road, and Jeffrey was sitting on his mother’s lap, when a drunk driver swerved into their lane and hit them head-on.
*Jeffrey said, “I don’t have any memory of the collision. I do recall the fear and confusion I felt as I saw myself literally covered with blood from head to toe. Then I learned that the blood wasn’t mine at all, but my mother’s. In that split second when the two headlights glared into her eyes, she instinctively pulled me closer to her chest and curled her body around mine.
-It was her body that slammed against the dashboard, her head that shattered the windshield. She took the impact of the collision so that I wouldn’t have to.
*It took extensive surgery for my mother to recover from her injuries. In a similar, but infinitely more significant way, Jesus Christ took the impact for our sin. (1)
*He did it for love, and we are spiritually covered by His blood when we put our trust in Him.
2. Jesus can save me by giving me His love, and His life. The great news is that Jesus Christ didn’t just die on the Cross for our sins. The Bible tells us that He rose again in victory over death, so Jesus is able to give eternal life to all who trust in Him. Think about this life, as we listen to the Lord in vs. 14-18:
14. "And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up,
15. "that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.
16. "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
17. "For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.
18. "He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
1-What can we say about this life? First of all, it is essential.
*Everyone without the Lord’s life is already condemned. Now this doesn’t include babies and young children, but everybody else is already eternally condemned in the worst possible way, with no hope of escape, except through Jesus Christ.
*James McCullen helped us understand how guilty we are with this little calculation. Suppose your sin account was as follows: One sin a week equals 50 sins a year times 10 years equals 500 sins. Then you stand before a judge and say I am a good man. I only have 500 offenses. (2)
*Does anybody here think you sin only once a week? Don’t raise your hand! We are all guilty and we all need the life that only Jesus can give.
2-His life is essential and it is excellent!
*Eternal life is not just a quantity of life; it is a quality of life. It’s a brand new kind of life for us, God’s kind of life. That’s why when Jesus began to talk about these things in this chapter, the first thing He said to Nicodemus was that people must be born again.
*Christian, you may not feel much like it today, but when you put your trust in Jesus, He gave you a life like His. This is why in 1 John 3:2, the Apostle John could say, “Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.”
*Here is what Rodney Buchanan once said about the excellent life we have in Jesus Christ:
-“King Jesus has not only stepped outside his heavenly castle, in order to come to us and experience our life here, his purpose in doing so was to lead us back to his kingdom that we might experience the delights of his life as king.
-In other words, it was not so much to experience our life that he came, but in order that we might experience his life. . .
-It is one thing to have a God who is willing to come and share in our suffering, it is quite another to have a God who is able to deliver us from our suffering.
-It is one thing to have a God who is willing to take on our identity, it is quite another to have a God who wants us to take on his identity. It is one thing to have a God who is willing to come to the squalor of our world, and quite another to have a God who invites us to step into the glory of his world. . .” (3)
3-The life that Jesus gives is excellent and it is everlasting.
*Jesus Christ will live forever, and we will live forever, if we place our trust in Him. So in vs. 16, Jesus said, “Whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” And in vs. 18, Jesus said, “He who believes in Him is not condemned.”
*Christian: When you get up in the morning, when you lay down at night, today, tomorrow, next week, next year, you are not condemned! When you leave this world and stand before God Almighty, you are not condemned, because you have trusted in the One who died for you.
*Watchman Nee told a great story about a new Christian who came to see him in deep distress. The new Christian said, “No matter how much I pray, no matter how hard I try. I simply cannot seem to be faithful to my Lord. I think I’m losing my salvation!”
*And I love what Pastor Nee wisely told him, “Do you see this dog here? He is my dog. He is house-trained; he never makes a mess; he is obedient; he is a pure delight to me. Out in the kitchen I have a son, a baby son. He makes a mess, he throws his food around, he fouls his clothes, he is a total mess. But who is going to inherit my kingdom? Not my dog. My son is my heir. . .” (4)
*Believers, the Bible tells us that we are the children of God! We are joint heirs with Jesus! And God is our Father through our Lord Jesus Christ.
*Through Jesus we can have His essential, excellent, everlasting life. Are you sure you have it? How do we get it? Nicodemus in this story reminds us that God’s life cannot come by being religious or trying to keep God’s rules. Nicodemus was a Pharisee. He was one of the most religious men in that very religious country. No one tried harder to keep the rules than Nicodemus, but it wasn’t enough. Eternal life does not come by keeping rules or being religious. Eternal life is a relationship with God the Father through His Son, Jesus Christ.
*Jesus made this clear in John 17:3, where He was praying to the Heavenly Father and said, “This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.”
*Eternal life is a relationship with God and a gift from God that comes by believing in Jesus. But what does it mean to believe? Nicodemus got a good clue in vs. 14, when Jesus talked about Moses lifting up the bronze snake on a pole in the wilderness. This may seem odd to us, but Nicodemus knew exactly what the Lord was talking about. It was an amazing story that happened in Numbers 21:4-9, when the Children of Israel were wandering in the wilderness with Moses. The Children of Israel foolishly grumbled against God and His servant, so the Lord began to punish them with fiery serpents.
*Listen to the story from the New Living Translation:
4. Then the people of Israel set out from Mount Hor, taking the road to the Red Sea* to go around the land of Edom. But the people grew impatient along the way,
5. and they began to murmur against God and Moses. "Why have you brought us out of Egypt to die here in the wilderness?" they complained. "There is nothing to eat here and nothing to drink. And we hate this wretched manna!"
6. So the Lord sent poisonous snakes among them, and many of them were bitten and died.
7. Then the people came to Moses and cried out, "We have sinned by speaking against the Lord and against you. Pray that the Lord will take away the snakes." So Moses prayed for the people.
8. Then the Lord told him, "Make a replica of a poisonous snake and attach it to the top of a pole. Those who are bitten will live if they simply look at it!"
9. So Moses made a snake out of bronze and attached it to the top of a pole. Whenever those who were bitten looked at the bronze snake, they recovered!
*Their only hope of salvation was to look God’s way. Look to God and live! That’s what it means to believe.
*But John Paton also helped us understand. John and his wife were pioneer missionaries in the South Pacific, and they were trying to work with people who didn’t even have a word for believe in their language. That was a huge problem when John Paton began translating the Bible into the native language, because this key word is seen over 200 times in the New Testament.
*John was stuck until a villager came to visit one day. He was exhausted from working in the hot sun, so the man sat down in a chair and said in his native language how wonderful it is when you are tired and can "lean your whole weight on something." Paton said it was like lightening struck, and suddenly he realized, That was it! “Lean your whole weight on something.” That was the thought John was searching for, and that’s what he used to translate believe into the native language. (5)
*This is what it means to believe in Jesus. You fully lean on Him. You trust Him to hold you up for all eternity, and He gives you His life.
3. Jesus can save me by giving me His life, and His light.
*We like light don’t we? Even a nice, sunny day is a blessing to us, especially after all the gray, rainy weather we’ve been having. But there is a spiritual light infinitely more important that the physical light in our world.
*Jesus talked about this light in vs. 19-21, when He said
19. . . . This is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.
20. For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed.
21. But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God.’’
*Think about all that this spiritual light can do in our lives. First it can show us our sins, even though some people would rather live in the dark. And the light can show us the safe way to walk in this world.
*Rodney Buchanan reminds us of this in a vacation story he told. There were poisonous snakes in the area where they camped, so Rodney said,
-“I told the other men with me that we needed to be cautious, because with all the rain, there was not a snake in the area that was still in its hole. The other guys were studying a map of the area and I walked over to a clump of bushes with only sport sandals on my feet. When I turned around there was a snake, just inches from the back of my heel. I jumped about four feet straight into the air.
-No one had to tell me to get away from that snake as fast as I could. I did not stop and look it up in a snake identification book before I decided what to do. I did not pause to plot my course. I just jumped and ran. I knew what I needed to do to be saved. No one had to encourage me. There was a clear and present danger, and I was doing everything I could to move away from it. . .” (6)
*But what if he had been walking around in the dark?
*Rodney makes this point:
-“There is a way in which we are all in a similar, yet perhaps more subtle danger. We are in danger of existing, but never living. We are in danger of being religious, but never really knowing God. We are in danger of knowing about God, but never experiencing him. We are in danger of living only for this life, and not being prepared for what is to come.” (6)
*Everybody needs the light. The light shows us the safe way to walk in this world, and the light shines the glory onto God. As Jesus said in vs. 21, “He who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God.”
*When we live in the light, God gets the glory for all the good things we do, and rightly so, because all the glory belongs to God. The light shines glory onto God, and best of all, the light shows us the Savior.
*Lost people can’t see Jesus, but believers we see Him in the spiritual light, because Jesus Christ is the Light of the world. So Hebrews 2:9 tells believers, “We see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that He, by the grace of God, might taste death for everyone.”
*We see Jesus! Well, if we can see Him, then what does He look like? He looks like my brother. He looks like my best friend. He looks like my Savior, my God and my King! Let His Light shine bright in your heart today!
*This isn’t the first time we have had all of this gray, rainy weather. We had weather like this in 1984, and I remember it because my mother came out for a long visit. She stayed about a month and it was rained 5 days a week.
*Mom had never seen anything like it and I want you to know she was sick of it. By the end of the month, she said “I’m never coming out here again!”
*She wanted to see some blue sky and bright sunshine, but the good news is, my mother saw the greatest light of all that year, because that was the time she opened her heart to receive Jesus as her Savior and Lord. Mom was saved at the age of 68. Why don’t you get saved today?
*Jesus can save you! He will give you His love, His life, and His light.
1. Jeffrey Ebert in Fresh Illustrations for Preaching & Teaching (Baker), from the editors of Leadership. (Bible Illustrator for windows - Topic: Atonement / Index: 304-305 - Date: 7/1998.1145 / Title: Christ’s Blood, Not Ours)
2. Cross and Crown Sermons - “Why Did Jesus Come to Earth?” - James McCullen - John 3:16-18
3. Sermon by Rodney Buchanan - “Christmas and Kingdom” - Matthew 10:7 - Dec. 3, 2006 - (Mulberry Street United Methodist Church - Mount Vernon, OH)
4. Quote by Watchman Nee found on sermonillustrations.com under the topic “security”
5. KERUX ILLUSTRATION COLLECTION - ID Number: 4461 - SOURCE: 50 Day Spiritual Adventure, Chapel Of The Air; Sermon: Trusting The God Of Surprising Outcomes - TITLE: How To Translate "believe" - AUTHOR: Rev. Robert L. Moss; First Church Of God; St. Joseph, Michigan - DATE: 4/7/96
6. SermonCentral sermon “How Can I Experience God” by Rodney Buchanan -John 3:1-17