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  • Writer's pictureSt. John's Lutheran

"Jesus Forgave All Our Trespasses...Nailing Them to the Cross!

John 3:16-21

|”For God so loved the world,[a] that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. 18Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. 19And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. 20For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. 21But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.”

December 19, 2021

Today we come to one of the most familiar and well-loved passages in all of Scripture. John 3:16 is a summary of what God’s saving plan in Jesus is all about. Centered in God’s love for the world and for all who have ever lived, God was willing to send His only Son to live among us, to die on a cross for our sin, and to, thereby, open the way, through our faith in Him, for us to become right with God and find ourselves eternally in the Kingdom.

Martin Luther called it “the Gospel in miniature.” He said it was as concise a statement of what the Bible is about as you will ever find. If you understand what this verse is saying, if you dig into what it means and why it matters for your life, you will not only understand what is behind the entire biblical story, but you will also have a solid foundation upon which to build your life.

There are many ways to talk about the Gospel. We call it the “Good News.” We refer to it as the life of Christ, what Jesus accomplished for us while He was here. Do you know what the Bible says about the Gospel? The Bible says the Gospel is “the righteousness of God.” It says the Good News is that the righteousness that belongs to God is given to us in Jesus Christ.

In seminary, they spoke of it as the doctrine of imputation. To impute means “to attribute” or to “ascribe to someone else”, something that was not originally theirs. That is what happens for us in Jesus. In the cross, we become what Christ is, and on the cross, He became what we are. His righteousness is attributed to us, and our sin is attributed, ascribed, given to Him.

That is what this summary verse tells us. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son.” Jesus became our sacrifice. Jesus paid our penalty. He took upon Himself our sin. The Gospel is that in Him, in Jesus, we are forgiven. In Him, in Christ, we are made to be right and righteous in the sight of God.

It is the Gospel in miniature. (“For God so loved the world”). It is a summary of what the entire biblical story is all about (“that He gave His only Son”).

And so, why did God give His Son? What was it that caused the Father, out of love, to send Jesus to the cross? It was our sin. It was the fallen nature of our lives. The Bible talks about our transgressions, our trespasses, our iniquities and our rebellion. Most literally, to sin means “to miss the mark.”

To miss the mark is a term taken from archery. When an archer is aiming at a target, the goal is to hit it straight on, in the exact place where you aim. When we sin, the Bible says, we miss the mark. We do not end up hitting the target we are intended to hit.

As we find ourselves only a few days away from the celebration of our Lord’s birth, we need to be asking ourselves that question. You know your life. You know how far and how often you have missed the mark.

In the world, everyone is trying to do it for themselves. They are trying to work their way up to God. Better than my neighbor, grading on a curve, the family plan, my grandma was a Christian…you know how it works. We think we can do it, but we cannot. It is not possible.

The Gospel comes to us in our sin and tells us that God has come to us. And He has come to us in His Son. He comes to us and He is with us in Jesus. And not only has He come to us and is He with us, but He has done everything needed to pay the price. The Bible says, “Jesus paid it all for us upon the tree. He forgave all of our trespasses…nailing them to the cross” (Colossians 2:14).

As we make our final preparations for Christmas, let us not forget why Jesus had to be born and how eternally grateful we must be. Amen.”

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