RonGlusenkampSermon for 2nd Lent

For God So Loved the World…
By the Rev. Ron Glusenkamp, Director of the “Campaign for the ELCA”


Grace and peace to you from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
I invite you to say those very familiar words from John 3:16:

16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.

Great, thank you. Now how do we know those words? Some might say well we know them from memory or repetition. Or perhaps we were used to seeing the Rainbow Man at sporting events hold up a sign, “John 3:16.” Others might say, “we know them by heart.” And that’s right. And I want to speak from my heart to your hearts today. For that is really what this passage, this Gospel of John is all about, namely, LOVE! “For God so loved the World.” And the good news for today and every day is “God so LOVES” the world today.

What we’re gonna do here is take a high level approach and then come into the specifics here.

High level is that the Gospel of John is different than the other three gospels. They all tell the story from basically the same viewpoint/perspective but each has their own special focus on highlights. Matthew and Luke have great Christmas stories- and Mark just jumps right in with the Baptism of Jesus- and how does John begin? He doesn’t do the manger thing at all, but rather goes back before the beginning of the World- “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God.” John is proclaiming a cosmic message, “before there ever was, GOD IS!”  He knew about globalization long before people were thinking of the world as a globe. And that’s really important. Also, as spiritual and heavenly as John is- he’s also a fabulous communicator (just like your pastor). He presents Jesus as presenting fabulous soundbytes-


And a couple of times throughout the Gospel remind tells us what his purpose is in writing the gospel- John 20:

30 Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book. 31 But these are written so that you may come to believe[d] that Jesus is the Messiah,[e] the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name

One more thing here- if Gospel of John was a play or a movie and you were the special effects team or stage manager you’d only have one thing to concentrate on- and that would be a light switch. It’s that simple and that complex. It’s either happening in the day, in the light or it happens at night in the dark. Today’s lesson happens in the dark- it is the first episode of Nick at Night. Nicodemus a Pharisee comes to see Jesus in secret. Later on he appears in chapter 7 and asks a process question when the trial of Jesus starts unfolding.
50 Nicodemus, who had gone to Jesus[q] before, and who was one of them, asked, 51 “Our law does not judge people without first giving them a hearing to find out what they are doing, does it?” And he’s there at the end when Jesus is being taken down from the cross.  He’s there with Joseph of Arimethea and has more than a hundred pounds of spices to anoint the body. He has gone from seeker, to liking, to following to be a disciple. John 19

quote john3 16Nicodemus you might say is old school, he’s traditional, but he sees something in Jesus and knows that Jesus is real. Perhaps that’s because he senses Jesus’ love- a world saving love, a dying on the cross love, a rising from the dead sort of love. And so it is in their conversation that Jesus reminds him the meaning and purpose of God- say it with me again, will you?
16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.

Jesus helps the people see that just like Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so he is going to get lifted up on a cross. For John this is the crowning moment- Christ on the cross for you, for me, for this world that God so loves. And life, eternal life began when we were united with Christ in baptism. As Pastor Eric preached last week, “It is knowing who we are and whose we are.”

So, I know in your anniversary year you are also commemorating the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation. Those of you who went through confirmation classes know that Luther loved to ask, “was is das?” “What does this mean?” And so what does this mean for us- that God so loves the world? I believe that you know it means that our mission like Jesus’ mission (and it got him lifted up on a cross) is to lift-up one another. It is to encourage when there is discouragement. It is to believe when there is apparently good reason to dis-believe. It is to be a beacon of hope when it seems hopeless. It means that death does not have the final answer, but rather love, God’s love brings life, new life, eternal life.

For you see, “before there ever was-God is.” Say it with me one more time,

16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.


For information about the “Campaign for the ELCA” go to

the Rev. Ron Glusenkamp,
Director of the “Campaign for the ELCA”
Mt. Olive Lutheran Church
Santa Monica, California
March 11 & 12, 2017

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