Summary: A sermon where I try and tackle the question: "Does God really love me or has God forgotten about me?"
“The Snake and Love of God”
By: Ken Sauer, Pastor of East Ridge United Methodist Church, Chattanooga, TN www.eastridgeumc.org
My heart nearly broke this past week as I was helping a mother and her son, who was probably 50-something and suffers from some serious mental problems, get a bus ride to Atlanta.
They live very difficult lives, and were moving from Nashville to Atlanta via Groome Transport—with all their worldly possessions in tow.
They had gotten stuck in Chattanooga due to a lack of funds.
When I was about ready to leave them, the man, Eric, looked at me and asked, “Do you think God really loves me?”
I answered, “Yes. Definitely.”
He continued, “Because, sometimes I wonder.
Things always seem to be going so bad, and with the way people have treated me all my life—sometimes I just wonder if God hasn’t just forgotten about me.”
Then he added, “Maybe when I get to Atlanta I will look for a Methodist Church.”
Our Gospel Lesson for this morning gives us sure and certain hope that God has not forgotten us and that God does indeed love us more than any of us could ever imagine!!!
Jesus says, “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.
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son…”
In Numbers Chapter 21, during their wanderings in the wilderness poisonous snakes invaded the camp of the Israelites killing many of them.
But God gave Moses the remedy: he was to make a serpent out of bronze, put it on a pole and hold it up for the people to look at.
Anyone who looked at the serpent on the pole would live.
The serpent, entwined around a pole, remains to this day, as a sign of healing used by various medical organizations.
Now, this is the only place in the New Testament where the bronze serpent is referred to.
And here it points clearly to the death of Jesus!!!
As Moses put the serpent on a pole, and lifted it up so the people could see it; the Son of Man must be lifted up, so that everyone who believes in Him may have eternal life.
Humankind as a whole has been bitten with a deadly disease.
The only cure is to look at the Son of God dying on the Cross, and find life through believing in Him.
This changes our perspective.
The evil which was and is in the world, deep-rooted within us all, was somehow allowed to take out its full force on Jesus.
When we look at Him hanging on the Cross or “lifted up”, what we are seeing is the result of the evil in which we are all stuck.
And we are seeing what the love of God has done about it, for you and for me and for every person who ever lived!!!
The Cross is the Ladder set up between heaven and earth.
Back in 1976, Jimmy Carter was running for President against Gerald Ford.
If you are old enough to recall you might know that Jimmy Carter caused a bit of a sensation.
Because during his campaign, Jimmy Carter said publicly that he was a Born again Christian.
It caused a stir, and it was a term that was used about him over and over again.
“Wow...Jimmy Carter is not just your ordinary run of the mill Christian.
He is a born again Christian!”
A few years ago, a Youth Director friend of mine was asked by young girl in the group about “those born again type of Christians.”
“What are they?”
Now, what would You answer to that?
He told her that there is actually no other sort.
If you are a Christian, then you are a born again Christian.
Jesus declared, “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless [they] are born again.”
When I was still in high school, I had heard about born again Christians...
I had even met a few...
But I didn’t understand the concept.
I thought that a born again Christian was a person who had once been a Christian....
…had somehow stopped being a Christian at some point....
…and then had become a Christian
Somehow, it seemed to me, that they had messed things up somewhere along the line....
…whereas the rest of us had stayed the course.
Jesus said, “Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying ‘You must be born again.’”
When I was a senior in high school some friends of mine and I were discussing the future....