God Loved the World (ELW 323)
1 God loved the world so that he gave
his only Son the lost to save,
that all who would in Him believe
should everlasting life receive.
2 Christ Jesus is the ground of faith,
who was made flesh and suffered death;
all who confide in Christ alone
are built on this chief cornerstone.
3 If you are ill, if death draws near,
this truth your troubled heart can cheer:
Christ Jesus rescues us from death;
that is the firmest ground of faith.
4 Be of good cheer, for God’s own Son
forgives all sins that you have done,
and justified by Jesus’ blood,
your baptism grants the highest good.
5 All glory to the Father, Son,
and Holy Spirit, Three in One!
To you, O blessed Trinity,
be praise now and eternally!
Our Theme Hymn for Lent, “God Loved the World,” is based on one of the two New Testament verses that in my judgment most aptly summarize the good news of Jesus Christ: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.” (The other such verse is 2 Corinthians 5:19, but that’s another devotion.) The hymn starts with a poetic restating of John 3:16 and then alludes to the incarnation (“who was made flesh and suffered death”), to the atonement (“Christ rescues us from death”), and to justification (“justified by Jesus’ blood”). Holy Saturday—the strange day that sits between the solemnity of Maundy Thursday and Good Friday and the raucous joy of Easter—is a fitting day to contemplate the infinite good news that indwells the singular moment of Christ’s death.
Blessed Christ, you came not to condemn, for we were already condemned. Shine forth with the forgiveness, light, love, and eternal life you have promised. Amen.