[Part 3 of 4] How does worship change your life?–John 3:16-21
And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil.–John 3:19
When I was younger my mom would ask me, “How much do you love me?” And my reply was, with arms as wide as I could make them, “Thiiiiiiiis Much!” She got a kick out of it, and of course already knew that I loved her. But this is how I fear “love” gets lost in translation. If you were to simply analyze my words you might conclude that I loved my mom, perhaps that I loved her a lot. However, my words don’t quite say, “I love you unconditionally!” Neither does this past event tell you, at least reading it analytically, that I STILL love my mom. John 3:16, is sadly a text that can become lost in translation. Does it say that God soooooo loved the world, at that one place and time when he sent his Son into the world? Or, is it STILL saying that the Father loved and continues to love the world? It is certainly the latter, and for this reason, that is why he sent his Son at that time and place–to redeem it! There is a difference, as you can see; John 3:16ff. is a wonderful and relevant statement of how Christ saved the world by reconciling it to himself, and how he gives himself to the world today completely.
Jesus takes part in this blessed exchange where we receive his righteousness and he, our condemnation. Belief then has a foundation not in works but in the pure grace of Christ’s action to save. We are not capable of doing what Christ did, but we are able to receive what he has done through faith (cf. Ephesians 2:8-9).
The verses 19-21 are a commentary on what we addressed last Wednesday concerning the bronze serpent on a pole. There the light of life was the serpent lifted up, which, if anyone looked at it who was bitten they would live and not come to an end; an end that lead to the darkness of death and hell. To believe then is to look NOT to yourself and your works but TO the works of God being done in you, that is, Christ’s crucifixion becoming your fixated pole of redemption. By it Christ’s works become yours– his resurrecting life and his salvation! These works can only come from God, which this text is speaking of, NOT the works you produce. Why? Because your works, as said in v. 19, only beget darkness. For you and I are like all people who before Christ, before faith, “loved the darkness.” This is the originality of sin among us fallen people. However, this is God’s promise, that those who look to Him alone are being saved. Does this mean we no longer sin after regeneration? No, but it does mean that having Jesus these sins are forgiven and we are admonished in the faith to go and sin no more; to refrain from anything that would have us wander and eventually deny that grace Christ gave us.
Christ gives us himself. His body is nailed on the cross for us, and there he pours out his blood for us too. Wow. What love is this! This is a love which Christ desires all to believe and receive. It really isn’t that surprising then that Jesus does in fact give us his body and blood in the Lord’s Supper. As Christians, if you can believe that this man named Jesus died on a wood pole for your sins and the sins of the whole world, and oh yeah, the sins that were and will be; it isn’t hard then to believe that Jesus is capable to be where he had told his disciples: in the bread and wine that they received in the upper room (Matthew 26:26–28; Mark 14:22–24; Luke 22:19–20; 1 Corinthians 11:23–25).
This blessed gift, is called a sacrament because it is holy and sacred; it is God’s power and might, it is simple bread and wine, which in accordance to God’s word, gives Christ’s Body and Blood for forgiveness. Jesus is the glory which fills this sacrament, he is of Heaven and earth. He is the one who comes in the name of the Lord to make us full of his hosanna praise, that is, his saving sacrament. Jesus is merciful to come and give himself to us when his people are gathered for worship, since his coming means that as we are there to remember him, he in giving us his body and blood remembers us and forgets our sins (as his Word and promises declare)! Jesus in emptying himself on the cross of life, light, body and blood, now fills us with these very things!! The Lamb of God took away the sins of the world! He grants our hearts and eyes peace, and gives us more to say and pray all because the Father gave his Son–because he loved the world unconditionally.
I admonish you to thank the Lord and sing his praise, by praying the prayer Jesus gave us in Matthew 6:9-13. By this prayer you confess yourself and to everyone what He has done, and you let all who seek the Lord rejoice the same with you. By Christ’s prayer given for you, and his cross given for you, may you have your faith strengthened and forgiveness given to you in the illumination of your soul through the eating and drinking of Christ’s gift of his body and blood! What a life changing, Gospel centered, worship!