Lent 2

February 24, 2002

Text:     John 3:1-17 (focus on John 3:16)

Title:     “The Sign”



I.                    It’s not uncommon for us in the church to talk about signs

·        Often when we talk about signs, we’re talking about biblical signs

o       Signs are abundant in the bible

·        At Christmas, we read, “This will be a sign for you”

·        There are all kinds of passages that refer to signs

o       Signals

o       Indicators

·        Prophets foretell of signs

o       “You will see signs of the times”

o       signs of things to come

·        Signs are abundant in the bible

o       Signals – guideposts – indicators

§         Tell us what’s going on, what to expect

·        In the church, we speak of biblical signs

o       But they’re not the only kind of signs

o       There are all kinds

§         On the way to church this morning, I’m sure you had at least one encounter with the most common of signs

·        The traffic sign


·        Stop – yield – speed limit 30 or 40 or 50

·        We see these signs all the time

o       In fact, we see them so often that, well, …we begin to ignore them

o       We ignore them

§         Not notice anymore

·        First time we saw that red octagon that said STOP, we probably took it pretty seriously

o       After 15 or 20 thousand of them

o       Don’t have the same impact they once had

o       We still stop, usually

§         Sometimes though, we just slow down

§         Once in a while, drive right through

·        I didn’t see the stop sign, officer

·        We’ve seen them so many times, we begin not to notice

·        It’s not that they’re unimportant

o       We’ve just seen them soooo many times

o       We get to where we pay less and less attention to it

·        Biblical signs not the only kind of signs

o       Dumb signs

§         London museum  - exhibits with small brass plates with Braille writing that says, “do not touch”

§         Catholic elementary school – Jesus is coming!  No bingo Sunday.

§         Presbyterian church – Come join us for Sun worship

§         Small town cemetery – directional sign along road pointing down that says, “one way”

o       We often speak of biblical signs

§         This morning, let’s talk about a real sign

·        Actual sign

·        You know, a big poster with words on it

o       A sign

·        When you ask a group of people what is the 1st thing you think of when you think of John 3:16

o       Invariably, someone will tell you

§         The sign

·        The sign

·        A biblical sign?

o       Sign of God’s love?

o       Sign of salvation to come?

o       Sign of the light?

o       Sign of the spirit, of rebirth?

§         Signs that Nicodemus couldn’t understand

·        No, a sign

o       You know, a poster with big words on it

§         The sign

§         The John 3:16 sign


·        You’ve probably seen it

o       Watched football game, hockey game, on TV

§         Anything with a big crowd

§         Probably be at the big race at Texas Motor Speedway

o       Probably seen it

§         There used to be this guy with this crazy rainbow colored wig

·        There in the stands

§         And whenever the camera was pointed at him, he’d hold up this sign

·        The John 3:16 sign

·        For a while, he was the only one you saw

o       Then other people began to do the same thing

§         Thankfully, they didn’t all have the same wig

·        But they had the same sign

o       John 3:16 sign

§         How many of you had someone ask you

·        John 3:16?

·        What does that mean, anyway?

·        What does it say?

·        How many even knew it was from the bible?

o       How many of you went back to your bibles to find out?

§         Oh yeah, that “God so loved the world” thing

§         I remember

§         What’s the score of this game, now?

o       How many times have we seen that sign

§         The John 3:16 sign

·        Seems like hundreds

o       Maybe thousands

·        Maybe so many times that we start to ignore it


o       Don’t notice it like we once did

o       People aren’t asking us what it means anymore

o       We aren’t getting up at halftime to fetch our bibles and look it up anymore

§         We see it and say, “I remember what it means”

·        It’s that, “God so loved the world” thing

o       Hey, we’re out of pretzels here


·        We’ve see it so many times

o       We’ve begun to ignore it

§         No longer has same impact

·        Words are so familiar

§         I wonder

·        Is it worn out?

·        Would it help if I got one of those rainbow wigs?

·        Is John 3:16 ruined for us?

·        Does it have anything left to say, or have we heard it all

o       John 3:16 has been so heavily advertised for so long

·        For some, it has become old

o       Passé

o       Like an old TV commercial or antiquated radio ad

o       We thought it was cute at first

o       Then it began to get on our nerves

§         Tired of hearing it

§         Resented it

§         Complained

·        “Why do they have to show this all the time?”

·        And then slowly, we simply begin to ignore it

·        Don’t even notice anymore

o       Ad?  What ad?  I’m sorry, I wasn’t paying attention

o       John 3:16?  I’m sorry, I wasn’t paying attention

·        Oh, I remember

·        It’s that “God so loved the world” thing, right?

o       Yeah, I’ve heard that before

o       I’ve seen that sign a hundred times

o       So many times that we forget


·        We forget that John 3:16 is the only place in the 4th gospel that says God gave his Son to the world

o       Everyplace says Jesus was sent to us

§         Sent on a mission

§         It was Jesus’ job

o       But here in John 3:16

§         God shows us God’s own heart

§         I give you that which is precious to me

·        I’ve already given you the earth, the sky, the sea, the stars

·        Already given you all I have created

o       Now I give you my Son, my only son

o       And I know what you’re going to do with him

o       And if we’re quiet, we might just hear the sound of God’s heart breaking

o       God has just given God’s Son

§         Only Son

§         To a world that will crucify him

§         Given him for a reason many can’t even remember

·        Because we’re tired of it

·        We seen it referred to so many times

·        In so many places

o       Even on those signs

o       The John 3:16 signs

·        So many times, so many circumstances, so many quotations, so many materials, so many places

o       We don’t care anymore

o       John 3:16?  Yeah, it’s that “God so loved the world” thing

o       I must have seen it/heard it/read it/had someone tell it to me a hundred times

§         Ironic, isn’t it, that the more we see it/hear it, exposed to it

·        The less we actually perceive it

·        More exposure – less attention


o       We’re still early in Lent

§         But the cross is growing larger and the light of the Lenten wreath now grows dimmer

·        Before we go further, perhaps we ought to look at that sign once more

o       The John 3:16 sign

o       Not as if it were just a sign in the crowd in the background

§         But for once as if it were the main event

o       Like it was the 1st time

§         Instead of the 101st


·        “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but have eternal life.”


·        What if I just showed up next Sunday and held up a sign that said, “John 3:16”


·        Would you hear God’s heart breaking?


·        Or would you just change the channel?