Seward United Methodist Church
Wednesday, January 19, 2022

April 19, 2020

John 20:19-31 and 1 Peter 1:3-9

John 20:31 is considered by most to be the “theme verse” of the Gospel of John. “These things are written so that you might believe in Jesus, the Christ, the Son of God, and by believing in his name, you may have life.”

God is the author and giver of life. In the Hebrew Old Testament, God’s name is Yahweh. Yahweh comes from the Hebrew word that means to exist or live. God is the living one, the living God. God is life. And God wants us to have life. God wants you to have life.

We are surrounded by things that promise to give life. Have this thing, do this thing, experience this, achieve that, and you will have life. But they don’t deliver. As someone once pointed out, “Whoever dies with the most stuff still dies.” Only God is life, and only God gives life. The message of the gospel is that we can have life in Jesus.

Our New Testament text today is 1 Peter 1:3-9. I’ve read this text many, many times over the years because it’s one of the traditional texts used as part of a funeral service. But I’m pretty sure I’ve never preached on it. Maybe it seems weird to use a “funeral text” to talk about life, but it is appropriate. This text is all about the life we have in Christ.

“Blessed be God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. For it is by his mercy we have the privilege of being born again.” The gospel flows out of the mercy of God. We are sinners, and God is perfect in both his holiness and his justice. By all rights, God could just leave us dead in our sins. But God is also perfect in his love and mercy.

By his mercy, we have the privilege of being “born again.” The gospel is not a message that says, “Do this, if you want to live.” It says, “You can be born again.” You can get a new start. It is a gift of God, and not an achievement you have to work for. God doesn’t just want us to have life; he wants us to have new life. Not just the life we’ve had, with all its troubles and disappointments, but a new life.

We live with a wonderful expectation because Christ rose from the dead. The resurrection is God’s guarantee that new life is possible. And this new life is an eternal life. It’s not temporary like the life we had before Christ. It goes on forever. Eternal life is not something we’ll have some day. It’s something we have now in Christ.

Verse of the Day...