4th Sunday of Lent

Gospel Lesson: John 3:14-21

Key Verse: God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again. (from The Message)


The verse that is most often cited from this passage is “John 3:16.” It appears on bumper stickers, billboards, posters at sporting events, and public bathroom stalls. While John 3:16 could be understood as an invitation to faith, it often feels like an accusing finger is being pointed at those who have not yet accepted Jesus Christ as their savior. Adding verse 17 to our posters makes all the difference in the world. Now, we discover Jesus is the way the world is put right again. When I have made a mess in the kitchen, there is no need for someone to point out the mess. What a relief it is when they get a mop and clean the floor, gather up trash that has spread throughout the room, or fill the sink with water and begin to wash dirty pots and pans! Through Jesus’ presence, and through belief in the one who believes in us, the mess we have made can be cleaned up. When we have given up hope of ever being set right within ourselves or with others, Jesus’ grace floods us with assurance of God’s love, and the will to do the difficult work of reclaiming a whole and healthy life. The mess we create as individuals, as well as the mess we make in community, affects us all. When we begin to apply Jesus’ mercy, when we begin to seek Jesus’ justice, when we stop blaming and start fixing, Jesus really does make all the difference in the world.

  • Think of a time when it felt like life was messed up, when trouble was coming down from all sides. What kind of response helped put our situation in perspective, making it possible to admit our errors, accept responsibility, and begin to “clean up our act”?
  • How might we, as ones who believe that Jesus came to set the world right again, become partners in the work?


Thank you, God,

            for sending Jesus to set us and our world right again as a sign of your great love.

Remind us to lean on your strength as you repair brokenness in us and others,

            and to invite those whom you love to receive your gift of new life,

through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

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