"Psalm 23," John August Swanson. Used by permission from the artist.
Image © by John August Swanson. Artwork held in the Luther Seminary Fine Arts Collection, St. Paul, Minn.
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John 3:1-21 Commentary
by David Lose
While the preacher is inevitably tempted to focus in this sermon on John 3:16, rightly called the world’s most famous Bible verse, it would be good to remember that the single verse of John 3:16 -- or any other verse, for that matter -- is not canonical in and of itself.
Rather, it is part of the story of Nicodemus, which itself is part of the Gospel of John, which itself is part of the New Testament, which is itself part of the Christian Bible. All of which is to say, the best place to start with not just this verse but also this passage is to put it into its narrative context.
Because we are relatively early into John’s story, it’s not hard for us to recount -- for ourselves and our hearers -- the plot thus far. After being heralded by John the Baptist, Jesus has essentially done two things. The first is to turn water into wine in what appears to be an impromptu miracle -- or rather, in John’s gospel, a sign of God’s activity in the world and disclosure of the identity and purpose of Jesus.
In this case, Jesus enacts the superabundance of God’s grace -- providing a vast quantity of the exceptional wine when the banquet has run dry -- that John had foreshadowed in the prelude by telling us that through Jesus “we have ...
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2019-20 Worship resources
The narrative lectionary is a four-year cycle of readings. Read more.
Narrative Lectionary 113: Nicodemus
January 26, 2014
Join Profs. Rolf Jacobson, Craig Koester, and Kathryn Schifferdecker for "I Love to Tell the Story," a conversation on Year 4 of the narrative lectionary. This podcast covers the text for Jan. 26, 2014: John 3:1-21. Accompanying reading: Psalm 139:13-18.