Whoever

Jon Opgenorth

Read: John 3:9-18

Whoever believes in him . . . (v. 15)

Though my sisters may disagree, I was a good kid growing up. I didn’t “smoke, drink, or chew, or go with girls who do.” I attended church twice on Sunday, professed my faith, and volunteered at VBS. I was a good kid. But how good is good enough? That is implied in Nicodemus’ question, “How can these things be?” (v. 9). Must I, a Pharisee, start all over again? What can I possibly do different?

That is exactly Jesus’ point. “None is righteous, no, not one” (Rom. 3:10). No, Nicodemus, not even you. No, Pastor Jon, not even you. But, thanks be to God, we are not born again into a new game of spiritual Chutes and Ladders, where one screwup sends us back to try again. We are born again into an altogether new kind of life: eternal life. Eternal life begins when we look to Jesus, not when we are good enough.

Eternal life is possible because Jesus has been lifted up just as Moses lifted up the bronze serpent in Numbers 21. The Israelites were being bitten by poisonous snakes and needed help. God made a way so that whoever looked at the lifted-up serpent was healed. Pharisees, pastors, and all kinds of “good people” are poisoned by sin and deserving of eternal death. But grace means that God has made a way. Jesus has been lifted up. Whoever looks to him will be saved. Yes, Nicodemus, even you must be born again. And even you can. “Whoever” means even you, even me. —Jon Opgenorth

Prayer: Thank you, Father, for lifting up your Son for me.