Summary: Lenten message identifying Jesus as the source of Eternal Life.
PROPOSITION: Jesus is the source of eternal life.
OBJECTIVE: To realize the Source during lent.
This is now the fourth Sunday during Lent. On April 13, we will experience the entrance of Jesus into Jerusalem to begin his week of passion. This tradition call is Palm Sunday. Following the week of Passion, we will gather for the celebration of the day of salvation, Resurrection Sunday, Easter Sunday. But we must journey a couple more weeks before entering Jerusalem and the week of passion.
During this journey called Lent, we have been giving consideration to our salvation. Today’s scripture readings from the Old Testament and Gospel would have us consider that Jesus is the source of eternal life.
From the OT reading, the Hebrew Children had escaped from the clutches of slavery of Egypt. Their God, through the obedience of Moses, had demonstrated his power before the rulers of Egypt. There were at least 10 different and progressively destructive signs that God performed upon Egypt. Finally, the Israelites were allowed to leave.
After they left Egypt, starting not too far into the journey, they began to grumble, complain, and express their desire to return to Egypt and slavery. On more than one occasion, Moses pleaded to God for the salvation of the incalsatrant children of Israel.
The Numbers 21:4-9 reading is one such incident. Poisonous snakes were allowed to enter the camp of the Israelites, biting them, and killing them. Moses made a bronze snake and placed it upon a pole. He lifted up this pole and those whose eyes were affixed to the token were saved from death.
The Gospel reading gives us what is probably the most memorized verse in all of the Holy Bible. John 3:16 is without a doubt the focal point of the Bible, the piece without which the redemption plan of God would have no foundation. However, v16 is but a part of a rather intense pericope, which when read and meditated upon in full context has great and reaching meaning.
This is about a man named Nicodemus seeking information about the Kingdom of God, eternal life. Nicodemus is a Pharisee, a ruler of the Jews. He comes to Jesus “by night” perhaps out of fear – or – wanting not to be disturbed. We witness a dialogue confirming to Nicodemus and us that Jesus is the source of eternal life.
Jesus brings before Nicodemus a familiar story of the Exodus and likens it unto himself. The “sign” or pole on which Moses placed the bronze snake served as a symbol of life to the dying, snake bitten Israelites. Those who looked upon the bronze snake that had been “lifted up” were saved from death.
That symbol is employed here to illustrate the lifting up of Jesus on the cross as God’s way of providing eternal life to all who believe. Those who look upon the Son of God, “lifted up” and the cross are saved of eternal death.
The point here is the “lifting up” of the Son of Man and the power of God in giving life to the believer. It is the “lifting up” that identifies the source of eternal life. That is what Jesus is referring when he says ‘even so the son of Man must be lifted up.’
The bronze snake “lifted up” in the desert brought healing from a plague of snakes. Jesus “lifted up” on the cross brings eternal life, salvation.
Jesus is the source of eternal life.
The term “lifted up” can also refer to exaltation in majesty. It is part of John’s theology that Jesus showed forth his glory not in spite of his earthly humiliation, but in fact because of those humiliations. To the outward eye, this was the uttermost of degradation, the death of a criminal. To the eye of faith, the eye of the believer, it was and is the supreme glory.
Jesus is the source of eternal life. Jesus “lifted up” brings to the believer eternal life.
As you journey through Lent, you may associate yourself with Nicodemus. You live in the darkness of sin, incapable and unable to save yourself. There is nothing you can do within yourself to secure eternal life. You too may be seeking the source of eternal life.
You may be the best moral person that ever lived, but remain in the darkness of sin. Like Nicodemus, you may be the greatest leader in the church, the most educated and knowledgeable of theology and still live in the darkness of sin. And as Nicodemus, you may now be exiting the darkness, leaving the shadows seeking the source of eternal life.
Raise your head and gaze upon the Son of God, lifted up. Believe on him and you will be saved. Jesus is the source of eternal life.