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Showing posts with label Jesus lifted up. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Jesus lifted up. Show all posts

Thursday, May 30, 2024

Guest Blog - Lifted Up: Embracing Jesus' Sacrifice for Eternal Life by Noah Hunt

This past Sunday, we were blessed to have guest speaker Noah Hunt deliver a powerful sermon at Pleasant Grove Methodist Church. Noah's message, centered on John 3:14-18, beautifully illustrated the profound connection between Moses lifting up the serpent in the wilderness and Jesus being lifted on the cross for our salvation. For those who couldn't be with us or who wish to revisit Noah's insightful words, here is a summary of his sermon.

If you have a Bible with you this morning, or if you'd like to grab a pew Bible in front of you, the verses this morning will come from page 1,513. For those of you who brought a Bible with you, we will be in John chapter 3, reading verses 14 through 18. It is indeed a pleasure to be here with you this morning and to bring a word from the Lord. We'll begin reading at verse 14:

"Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, so that everyone who believes in Him may have eternal life. For God loved the world in this way: He gave His one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him. Anyone who believes in Him is not condemned, but anyone who does not believe is already condemned because he has not believed in the name of the one and only Son of God."

Let us pray.

Our Father in heaven, we are thankful for Your word to us. It is a clear word and a word of truth. You speak to us from the pages of Scripture, the Gospel, the good news. I pray this morning that You would awaken faith, belief, and trust in our hearts, that we might believe upon the name of Jesus Christ. I pray for those this morning who have believed for many years, that You would encourage our hearts, that we might want to follow You to greater depths of faith, and that we might want to act in greater acts of service for Your name's sake. May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in Your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer. Amen.

I don't know how many of you own pets out there or how many of you are dog people, but if you've ever had a dog and watched it grow old and gray in the face, seen its joints begin to move slower than they used to, it's sort of a sad picture. You realize the truth of the old adage: it's hard to teach an old dog new tricks. I've had limited time in education—four years—but I can also say it's hard to teach older teachers new lessons. As we grow old, it's harder for us to learn, to become open to things that challenge us, to look at old truths with new sets of eyes.

In today's text, many of you who have studied the Bible for years know this passage comes from a conversation between Jesus and Nicodemus. Nicodemus was a Pharisee, a wise teacher of the Bible, an older man with experience. I'm sure he was locked into his best practices and his understanding of how to communicate truth to his people. But here we have Nicodemus, an old Pharisee, coming in the dead of night to sit at the feet of Jesus of Nazareth, the Light of the World, a young Rabbi, a Carpenter's son. Who is He to you today?

Nicodemus, while old, callous, and perhaps jaded, knew there was something in the miracles and message of Jesus that he needed to hear. This morning, I invite you to turn the eyes of your heart upon Jesus and look full in His wonderful face, because the concerns of this world will grow dim in the light of His glory and grace.

Jesus does not condemn Nicodemus. He does not berate him or tell him he should know more by now, though He is a little critical. Jesus begins to build on what Nicodemus already knew. He turns to what Nicodemus knew best—the Old Testament, specifically the book of Numbers, chapter 21. Jesus mentions an example from Moses: "Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up."

This might seem confusing at first. You might think of Moses' miracle before Pharaoh where he threw down a stick that became a serpent, but that's not what Jesus was referring to. In Numbers 21, the children of Israel were brought out of Egypt and wandered in the wilderness. They began to grumble and complain against God and Moses. In response, God sent snakes into their camp. As the snakes bit them and they began to die, the people cried out to Moses, confessing their sin and asking for intercession. God instructed Moses to make a bronze serpent and lift it on a pole. Those who looked at the serpent in faith were healed.

This morning, do you need to turn your eyes upon the One who was lifted up on a cross for you, to cover your sin with His blood? Do you need to turn your eyes upon the One who did not stay in the grave but was raised for your justification and freedom from sin?

Jesus was building new faith in the heart of Nicodemus, and He can do the same for you today. You might ask, "Why should I turn my eyes upon Jesus?" I offer you two points from these verses:

  1. Jesus is God's greatest gift, given so that believers will live forever.
  2. Jesus is God's Son, sent to save believers from condemnation.

This morning, I encourage you to wrestle with the truth of who Jesus is to you. Is He someone you acknowledge in passing, a good teacher, a moral philosopher? Or is He the very Son of God? Jesus is God's final offer, the only offer for eternal life, a life that begins today and continues into eternity. If you believe this gospel, you are living that eternal life now. It's not something to wait for; it starts today.

To appropriate this gift into your life, you must believe—not just intellectually, but to trust, to have faith, to rest yourself in Jesus. This morning, if you want to believe in Jesus Christ, you are trusting in a personal Savior who will carry you from this world into eternity.

Let us pray.

Our Father in heaven, we thank You this morning for Your word to us. Convict us of our sin and show us the condition of our hearts. Help us to believe that Jesus Christ is who He says He is, and that He is Lord. If someone is making a decision of belief today, I pray they would not leave this church without confessing that belief. Go with us this day and help us to seek and save that which was lost. In Jesus' name, amen.

Thank you for joining us for this powerful message. We pray that Noah Hunt's sermon has touched your heart and inspired you to turn your eyes upon Jesus, embracing His gift of eternal life. If you have any questions or need prayer, please reach out to us. God bless you!