Text: John 3:1-17
If you’ve looked at the title of the sermon for today, your first thought may have been, “What in the world is she going to say?” When I got up this morning and began preparing to deliver this sermon, my first thought was, “What in the world was I thinking?!” Here in progressive-Christian-land, we tend to steer away from the words “saved” and “salvation.” Many of us, certainly the Baptists among us, grew up with a traditional understanding of Jesus: he was sent by God to die for our sins and if we accept him as our personal Lord and Savior, we will go to heaven and be with him for eternity. Saving us was why Jesus came. Personal salvation was his purpose for being on earth. Our text for today, John 3:16, was the verse most often quoted as the basis for this theology—in the King James version, of course: For God so loved the world that he (and that God was definitely a “he”) gave his only begotten son that whosoever believeth in him should not perish but have everlasting life. Many Christians can quote this verse if they can’t quote anything else in the Bible. And this is Lent. We’re headed toward Jerusalem where Jesus will be crucified, buried, and raised from the dead. Isn’t the Easter story all about our personal salvation?