PASTOR CLAY SCHMIT
The Gospel in a Nutshell
In Sunday’s gospel story from John, Nicodemus comes to Jesus by night. He wants to check out who this amazing figure is, but he does not want to be seen doing so. He is a Jewish leader and teacher. He does not want rumors to spread, in case his visit proves that Jesus is a kook. Turns out, he quickly realizes that Jesus is not some wild eyed religious fanatic, but a legitimate prophet. He comes away thinking that Jesus may actually be the Messiah.
During their chat, Jesus says something that must have sounded confusing at the time. But, the writer John includes it because he knows that we will understand. Jesus says, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him may not perish, but will have everlasting life.”
There is a reason that this is the most beloved of all Bible passages. It tells the whole story in one sentence. Martin Luther called it the whole Gospel in a nutshell. If anyone ever asks you why you believe, you would do very well simply to say this verse. When you do, you will be preaching the message in a loud and clear way. As a preacher, I hope that my own sermons speak the good news with the same kind of clarity, even though I could never say it all so succinctly as this beautiful sentence does.
We will never know why God so loved the world that he would sacrifice his own Son. To be honest, we are not all that lovable. God would have every right to destroy us. Instead, God saves us. Here is a prayer for Lent: Thank you, Jesus, for loving us so deeply that you were willing to give up your own life for us. We cannot repay you. But we can pay your love forward—by sharing it with all the people you place upon our pathways. Walk with us, this season, and teach us to see you in, and show our gratitude toward, everyone we meet. Amen.
Pastor Clay Schmit