ST. STEPHEN’S PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH NOVEMBER 18, 2018
Rev. Ed Musson
Psalm 107: 1-3; 17-22; Ephesians 2: 1-10; John 3: 14-21
I am going to start this morning with a Question. Have you ever noticed while reading the Gospel of John how the author of this Gospel refers to himself? He doesn’t refer to himself by name…or in a sense maybe he does. He calls himself “the disciple whom Jesus loved.”
Now we do know that his given name was actually John the son of Zebedee. He’s the same guy who wrote the Epistles of John and also the Book of Revelation and of course the Gospel of John. But he calls himself by another name…He calls himself “the disciple whom Jesus loved.”
Why is this? Did Jesus love this disciple more than the others? It doesn’t appear that John felt this way. John talks about how Jesus loved Mary and Martha and he tells us how Jesus even wept over the death of his dear friend Lazarus. And in our passage for this morning, he quotes Jesus as saying, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
So what made John feel so special? Could it be that after having had a life-changing encounter with the Son of the Living God…experienced first-hand the forgiving and accepting love of Christ…traveled with Him for so long…watched Him die on the Cross at Calvary…seen Him after He had been raised from the dead…. That – John’s life – had been changed so dramatically…- His identity had been so forever marked by the love of Christ…- there was no other name by which he could think of to express who he was?
Let me ask you – have you ever known someone who loved you so much…that you had no doubt in your mind that they would love you unconditionally—no matter what — that you could feel as though you could say “I am the person whom that person loves?”… and because of that love my life is worth living.- I have a purpose. – I have a meaning. – I have a calling. I am made to feel like a person of worth because of that love? If you have, you are very blessed. And as Christians, together here this morning, if we are able to get even a glimpse of the nature of the profound love that God has for each and every one of us…we should all be able to leave here with the life affirming and life giving ability to say, “I am the disciple whom Jesus loves!”
Sure, We’ve got a million faults…and Jesus knows about every one of them. Were not perfect…not even close…We are always making mistakes…There are some sins in our lives that we still can’t seem to shake…and we may be kind of goofy, or we may be overweight, or we may not have have much money, or my boss doesn’t treat me well….BUT JESUS LOVES ME!
And that is what makes my life worth living. I believe it. I know it to be true. And all my problems pale in comparison to the surpassing greatness of knowing Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior…of knowing that He loves me despite of myself…and nothing on earth, in heaven or in hell can change that fact!!!
“For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” My Friends – Here’s the thing There is nothing more profound than this! There is no greater news!!!
J.C. Massee once told of a friend who traveled a great distance for an interview with a distinguished scholar. When the man arrived, he received a cordial reception. Before being seated, he said to his host, “Doctor, I notice that the walls of your study are lined with books from the ceiling to the floor. No doubt you have read them all. I know you have traveled extensively, and doubtless you’ve had the privilege of conversing with some of the world’s wisest men—its leaders of thought, its creators of opinion.
I have come a long way to ask you just one question. Tell me, of all you’ve learned, what is the one thing most worth knowing?” Putting his hand on the guest’s shoulder, the scholar replied with emotion in his voice, “My dear sir, of all the things I have learned, only two are really worth knowing. The first is that I am a great sinner. The second is that Jesus Christ is a great Savior!” Now, I don’t mean to offend anyone, but right here and now, seated in the Saint Stephens PC pews are a great many sinners.
Sometimes we aren’t real nice to one another. Sometimes our feelings get hurt by an unkind gesture from another. but another fact is true: “Right here and right now, seated in the sanctuary of Saint Stephens Presbyterian Church are a great many people who have Jesus Christ as their great Savior!
How true that statement is! And it is true for everyone of us everyone in the world! Friends We have no greater need than – to know Christ better…- to have one passion—Christ! “For God so loved the world…”
The Christian life doesn’t so much center on ethics or rules But rather on a new way of seeing…and thus a new way of being. When we begin to see ourselves as sinners who cannot please God by any method of self-improvement or self-enlargement…Only then can we turn to God for outside help—for His grace—and when we do this we learn, to our amazement, that a holy God already loves us despite our defects.
The Church of Jesus Christ is a community of people who believe that God loves them enough to die for their salvation. Like alcoholics on the path to recovery, we share a mutually acknowledged weakness—that is known as sin —and an understanding that we cannot overcome this sin on our own—we need God!
If we are not humbled by our faith in the God of love and His forgiveness…then we had better re-examine what kind of faith we actually have.
Paul writes in Ephesians: “Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions.” Jesus, Who was perfect and sinless had every right to be repulsed by the behavior of those around Him. Yet He treated the most notorious of sinners with love and mercy—not condemnation. And my friends – Here’s the thing this is what He is still doing for us today!!!
The Bible tells us that when we believe in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior that we receive the Holy Spirit and that makes us children of God. And by the Holy Spirit we can say, “Abba, Father.” —which is an expression of a very close relationship with God…it’s like calling God “Daddy.”
The author of the Book of John the son of Zebedee…a humble follower of Christ from the earliest days of His ministry…One of the apostles who lives us eyewitness testimony of the life and Words of Jesus…had been so changed by the Ultimate Love of God that he could only refer to himself as “the disciple whom Jesus loved.”
And yet he knew full well that Jesus loves the entire world in the same fashion…
I’ll close with another Question do we know … do you really know that we – you and I are also people whom Jesus loves?