An entryway into the heartland

By Dave Henning / July 28, 2022

“The words [of John 3:16] are to Scripture what the Mississippi river is to America — an entryway into the heartland.  Believe or dismiss them, embrace or reject them, any serious consideration of Christ must include them. . . .  The verse is an alphabet of grace, a table of contents to the Christian hope, a safe-deposit box of jewels.”- Max Lucado

“Nicodemus said to [Jesus], ‘How can a man be born when he is old?’ “- John 3:4 (NKJV)

Max Lucado concludes Chapter 1 of 3:16- The Numbers of Hope as he observes that Nicodemus hesitates on behalf of us all.  He finds Jesus’s statement physically impossible.  But, Max asks, wouldn’t we like to put life in reverse?  rewind the tape?  And a mulligan would be nice.  However, Pastor Lucado points out:

“Newborn hearts are born of heaven.  You can’t wish, earn, or create one.  New birth?  Inconceivable.  God handles the task from start to finish.”

Therefore, Max underscores, spiritual rebirthing requires a capable parent.  Rather than an able infant.  Certainly, God = that capable parent.  Thus, the use of the word again in John 3:3 takes on great importance.  The Greek language offers two choices for again:

  1. Palin – meaning the repetition of an act
  2. Anothen – also depicts a repeated action, but requires the original source to repeat it

Jesus employed the second Greek term.  Hence, the original creator recreates His creation.  Consequently, we don’t try again.  Instead of the muscle of self, we need a miracle of God.  As a result, Pastor Lucado describes John 3:16 as:

“A twenty-six-word parade of hope: beginning with God, ending with life, and urging us to do the same.  Brief enough to write on a napkin or memorize in a moment, yet solid enough to weather two thousand years of storms and questions.  If you know nothing of the Bible, start here.  If you know everything in the Bible, return here.  We all need the reminder.  The heart of the human problem is the heart of the human.”

Today’s question: How do you see John 3:16 as an entryway into the heartland of Scripture?  Please share.

Tomorrow’s blog: “Try that mantra on for size”

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Dave Henning

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