John 3: 16


Introd.  Do any of you recognize the name Kelvin Kirk, David Vobura, Tim Toone, Andy Stokes.  Those were all recipients of the Mr. Irrelevant Award – which is annually given to the very last person selected in the NFL draft.  This years recipient was Cheta Ozougwu DE from Rice.  In 1979 a group out of Newport Beach CA feeling sorry for this person invented this award and he is given a one week stay at a beach resort with his family, free golf, a regatta experience, a banquet where he is presented with the Lowsman Trophy – a statue of a player fumbling a football.

Have you ever felt irrelevant – you don’t count – you aren’t part of the group – have no value.  Let’s talk about that. 

New fictional tv show called person of interest.      

Two lists:  relevant and irrelevant 

Apply this to the Christian faith – did Jesus come for just a select few or did he come for anyone who will come?  Does Jesus have a irrelevant list – those he deems unworthy of acceptance? 

How about you?  Do you have an irrelevant list? 

John 3:16 is the most popular verse in scripture for a reason.  In this one verse the gospel is given in condensed version.  God loves the world – gave His son Jesus to die for us – whoever believes in Him has eternal life. God loves, Jesus died, we live. 

Listen to John 3:16 in the Message: read 

Jesus doesn’t begin with a list of pre-qualifications; he says any one.  He uses an all inclusive word:  anyone.

Kyle Idleman  from his book not a fan tells the story of his daughter in the white room. two girls  flipped over the couch and there was a large blotch of fingernail polish – stained  - daughter Morgan realized she was taught – ran out of the room – up to her bedroom and hid in the closet – crying – called out to her and told her to come back downstairs – she confessed to the caper through many tears and seeking forgiveness. She told of how scared she was that someone would find out.  She couldn’t even come into the room without getting nervous.  Then Kyle says:  she looked up at me with those big brown eyes and said: Daddy do you still love me? With tears now streaming down his face he said:  “Morgan you could never make a big enough stain to keep me from loving you.”

They never got the stain out but now when people come over, Morgan turns over the pillow and shows them what happened and that stain which once represented guilt and shame now represents love and grace. 

Isn’t that what Jesus does for us through the cross?

What is the stain in your life? Your stain is not too big to be covered with the blood of Jesus? 

In I Timothy 2: 1-7

The inclusive nature of the gospel

When this was written, there were questions about the outreach of the gospel – who does it apply to? Only to Jews?  Do you have to become Jewish to accept Christ?  be circumcised, obey the festivals etc?  Paul answers this with this report. Answers three important questions!! 

Who should we pray for?  Vs. 1 everyone

What about the kings – they oppress us –time of great persecution of Christians -  treat us terrible – nope  pray for them too   they need it  

Who does God want to save from their sins?

God wants all men (every one) to come to a knowledge of the truth.

Who is our mediator? Jesus What about the gentiles –non Jewish people - All men in verse 5 Paul drives home his point with the declaration that Jesus Christ is the only mediator between God and mankind – to accomplish that he died for Gentiles as well as Jews.

God does not have an irrelevant list of people who don’t count.  He invites them all to his table?

Think with me about the gospels:  who did Jesus invite to be a part of his family?

Leper  Mark 1  came to Jesus and asked for help – Jesus reached out his hand and touched him. Cured.  Physical problems do not make you irrelevant to God.

Demon possessed man Mark 5  out of control living in the graveyard  danger to himself and others  Jesus cast out the demons and restored his sanity.  Emotional and mental problems do not disqualify you from God’s grace. Do not make you irrelevant.

Little children  Mark 10  bring the children to me – took them in his arms  blessed them.  Age does not disqualify you from God’s grace.

Religious people  John 3  Nicodemus   prominent Jew –   religious but not spiritual  obey the law but I have no relationship with God.  Perhaps this is the most difficult group of all – inoculated against the gospel – know just enough to say the right words at the right time but their lives aren’t changed.  works without a changed heart  

Immoral woman John 4  Samaritan woman with a very a sexually checkered background.  5 husbands and a current live in - Sinful background of immorality does not disqualify you from being invited.

Rich man   Mark 10  came to him boasting that he had kept all the commandments – recognized something missing and asked what must I do?  You want to be relevant - Sell what you have and give to the poor.  Your economic status – either rich or poor-  does not disqualify you from being invited.

Of all of those he invited, only one said – nah – I don’t think so. The only one who would have been relevant in that first century environment.   The rich businessman. This is not a condemnation of the rich and wealthy – if so we are all guilty – Luke was a doctor, Joseph of Arimathea was very wealth and they answered the call.

It is the realization that all of us are spiritually poor and in need of a Savior and that our possessions or our works or our good deeds won’t get us into heaven. 

In every single case, Jesus said this to them:  don’t let your past determine your future. 

Perhaps of all the seemingly irrelevant people that came to Jesus, the most improbably was Matthew.

He called him not just to be in the family, but to be in the inner circle  a disciple. 

Story is found in Matt. 9: 9-12   

9 As Jesus went on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax collector’s booth. “Follow me,” he told him, and Matthew got up and followed him.

10 While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and sinners came and ate with him and his disciples. 11 When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?”

12 On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. 13 But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’[a] For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

Matthew was a Jew.  In the gospel of Luke, we discover that Matthew was also called Levi.  His parents named him after the tribe of priests. It’s possible his father was a priest and wanted to continue the tradition. In this age, most children grew up in the same job that their parent had.  In biblical times, names often designated more than just a handle by which to be called. 

Not so much now but there was a time when Christians named their children after Biblical characters:  Mary, Martha, Elizabeth or for boys  John, Paul, Matthew, Luke.  You don’t find Christian families naming their children Muhammad.   You don’t find Muslims named their children Jesus.

They had great expectations.  Our son is going to be influential in the Jewish faith. 

What went wrong?  We don’t know. Perhaps he flunked out of the rabbinical school. Maybe he couldn’t memorize the Torah quickly enough.  Maybe he ran into some moral issues where he failed. Maybe he got cut – couldn’t measure up.  Somehow this man got off track and wound up in the employment of the hated Romans as a tax collector.

Gospels associate tax collectors with prostitutes and sinners so it wasn’t exactly a wholesome profession.  Known as thieves and cheats. In the eyes of the Jewish faith, Matthew was an irrelevant person.

One day the rabbi Jesus saw him sitting at his booth and said:  follow me and he got up and followed him. He probably said:  who – me? 

It was about as likely for a Jewish rabbi to ask a tax collector to join him as for Barrach Obama to choose Glenn Beck  as his next running mate.

Rabbis were highly respected individuals who were teachers of God’s word – primarily an oral culture.  So they would gather a group of disciples or apprentices called “Talideem” to be with them.  An exclusive club – only relevant people need apply.  The greater and smarter the group of disciples – the greater the prestige with the ruling rabbi.

As in most prestigious groups, there were hefty prerequisites.  If you have a 2.0 don’t bother applying to Harvard; if you are small and run a 5.0 40 yard dash, don’t bother trying to get a football scholarship to a major university – it just won’t happen.

So rabbi’s would choose the smartest people with a pedigree and expect them to follow a rigorous training program.

Jesus chose fishermen, commoners and tax collectors – what kind of a rabbi is this that says:  whosoever will may come –Luke 9:23  if anyone wants to follow me – come on. 

There is a great lesson in this invitation:  his invitation was not only to the spiritually elite, the morally upright and those who had their lives fully together – it was for anyone who wanted to come.  An open invitation – no wonder John 3:16 is so popular. 

Have you ever been through a qualification process? 

Sports teams  - high school, there is one day that everyone hates  - cut day.

You try out – do your best – compete against others and then the coach says:  you’re in – sorry you’re out.

Good news with Jesus is that there is no cut day. God wants you to come into his family.

Some of you may have applied to get into college, clubs, or social organizations, or applied for a mortgage or a loan and heard the words:  I’m sorry you don’t qualify.  You are irrelevant to this organization.

There are no irrelevant people to God.  Whatever your background, social status, age, job or intellectual ability – God wants you in the family.

So who is invited to follow Jesus?  Anyone

            Ex convict

            Immoral person



            Former drug user like Dino Ferrari

            Church going hypocrite

            Former atheist like Tina Hans

            With a sordid past