John 3: 14-21
Pastor Jenny Lee, Ph.D.
“The Reason God Gave Us His Only Son”
I want to share with you a story about a lady. I met her when I was a hospital chaplain. One day, when I went around visiting the patient rooms, I saw a door was open. I knocked on the door of a patient’s room, but there was no response. I slightly opened the door more and looked inside, saying, “Excuse me.” I heard some noise from the bathroom. I thought the patient was in the bathroom and went round to other rooms. After my rounds, when I wrote my daily report, I was suddenly curious about the patient. I stepped up to the nurse’s station to ask the patient’s situation. According to the patient’s nurse, she cried a lot after hearing the news of a cervical cancer diagnosis. She had no visitors because she didn’t want to see any people. She seemed depressed.
I felt sorry for her, and went to her room, bringing a prayer shawl. Her room door was open slightly. I knocked on the door, but no response. I pushed the door, saying, “Excuse me. I am a chaplain, Jenny Lee. May I come in?” She was lying toward the window side on the bed. She didn’t say, “come in,” but I felt I had to be there with her for a while so I entered. I sat on a chair nearby her bed. I said, “I’m sorry for bothering you. But I came in because I wanted to be with you for a while, and I have to tell you that God loves you so much no matter what. Do you know how much God loves you? God loves you so much God gave you His Only Son, which means God’s love for you is unlimited and unconditional. I brought a prayer shawl for you. When you see this shawl, please remember, someone is praying for you. You are not alone.” I put the shawl on her bed and left her room.
The next day, her nurse called me, asking if I could revisit her because she asked to see me. I went to her room again. As soon as I said, “Excuse me.” She said, “Are you, Chaplain Jenny?” She was sitting on her bed with a smiling face and said, “I thought that I had a dream and that someone came to me in my dream and that she said, ‘God loves me so much.’ But when I saw this beautiful shawl, I remembered it was real, and I remembered your name. Thank you very much for coming to see me.” She was depressed because she thought that God punished her when she heard about her diagnosis of cervical cancer. She also felt ashamed of her people, even of her family and close friends. So, she didn’t share her diagnosis with anyone. She was a famous designer, but she wanted to stop her job because she thought God was punishing her. However, she gained courage from my words, “God loves you so much no matter what.” She asked me about God’s love if God didn’t punish her why did she have this disease. I told her, “Think about if you had to send your only son to die for others. If it is not God’s love, no one can do it. It is an unlimited powerful love more than enough to forgive all your sins and my sins. Just believe in Christ, who loves you enough to die on the cross. The love may release you from all your burdens. You are a precious daughter of God, who is exchanged with His Only Son. God can do what we can’t do. So, we can make things happen only by prayer. Just believe in God and pray.” She and I prayed together and I left her room. The other day, she called me again and gave me my portrait that she drew. She said, “Your portrait I drew will be evidence that I will receive therapy, and I will work on my job for God if God heals me. Now, I knew I am a beloved daughter of God who exchanged the life of His Only Son for my sins.” Eight months later, I received a message from her that she was cancer-free.
Today’s scripture is one of the famous passages. We learned this passage by heart when we were children in Sunday school. Even some of your children may have memorized this passage, “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.” But, I am curious how many of you believe this passage and live it out in daily life. If anyone of you is a parent, you might not understand how God exchanged His Only Son’s life with others’ lives. It is not understandable and an unaccountable love for us, but we know it is amazing grace and a powerful love, which we dare can’t imitate. Even though we cannot understand and imitate the love of God, we know if we believe it, we may not perish but may have eternal life. We learn that eternal life may be no more suffering, tears, sadness, and pain but only rejoicing, singing and dancing with our Lord. If you believe it, you should live to feel free from all burdens of guilt, lower self-esteem, and all kinds of addictions because you are the beloved children of God. When Jesus died on the cross, he removed all our burdens and sins, and then there should be no more self-punishment, addiction, or guilt in us. Please stand on the assurance of God’s children firmly in faith. God will release you from all burdens.
While Israelites were on a journey to the Promised Land, they complained against God and their leader Moses. God sent them poisonous serpents among people. Many of them died in the wilderness. They asked Moses to pray for them, and he prayed to God. God told Moses to make a poisonous serpent and put it up on a pole; anyone who is bitten can look at it and live. So, Moses made a bronze snake and put it up on a pole. When anyone was bitten by a snake and looked at the bronze snake, the person lived (Numbers 21:4-9). Do you understand how they got healed just by looking at a bronze snake on a pole? God sometimes works in a way we can’t understand. Such as, if we believe in Jesus Christ, who died on the cross for our sins, we may not perish but may have eternal life. As soon as we accept Jesus Christ as our Lord, we begin to live an eternal life. Even though we die and our physical bodies perish, our spirits may live an eternal life if we believe in Jesus Christ, who died for our sins, resurrected victoriously, and lives eternally among us.
Remember, what Jesus’ resurrection from death means that he overcame all depression, sadness, humiliation, and shamefulness. Therefore, as we believe in him, we can do it. You know what, real enemies are inside us, which makes us sometimes depressed, sad, discouraged, and pushes us to negative ways, whispering, “you cannot do it.” “You are nothing.” “You are useless,” “You are punished.” We may be discouraged more when we are disappointed more in ourselves than we are disappointed by others. However, even though you failed it now, it is not the end of the world and not the end of your life, but just a part of your life. Suddenly you may move to the next level by God’s grace. Who knows, the door that looked closed may suddenly open. We have tomorrow, which we never live; we may have eternal life in Jesus Christ even though we don’t experience death yet; we may have hope that we shall be released from addictions such as a self-centered mindset, drugs, or alcohol, which make us depressed. God never leaves us suffering because we are very precious children of God, who were exchanged with his only Son. That is the reason God gave us His Only Son.
The Gospel of Luke, Chapter 15: 11-32, has a story of a prodigal son. The son asked for his father’s inheritance. As you may know, getting an inheritance from his parents was possible only when his parent passed away. While his father was alive, he requested his inheritance to be an immoral sin against his father. It meant that he regarded his father as dead. Nevertheless, his father gave him his share of the property. As soon as he got his stuff, he left his father’s house and spent everything he got. Finally, he got hungry and began to be in need. He was hired to feed pigs, and he ate pig’s food, but no one gave him anything. He missed his father’s house, where there was plenty of food and shelter. He regretted and repented his sins against God and his father. He returned to his father. His father, who was waiting for him, welcomed him, gave him a ring and good clothing, and had a party. Such as, his father waited for his son, who sinned against him, and welcomed his son as soon as he was back home. His father didn’t ask for any sins in the past but welcomed his son joyfully and gave him a ring, which means that he is his precious son. It is enough if you come back to God. No matter what, God forgives you, welcomes you, and assures you are a beloved child of God. It is God’s love. The reason God gave us His Only Son is that God loves us so much no matter what. Thanks be to God. Amen!