Coffee is not simple anymore. Years ago about the only way to complicate coffee is to add sugar or creamer. The really exotic, would put an egg in the coffee grounds to make a premium brew (the Ebenezer old-timers tell me Arvey Arnett made the best egg-coffee). Today, we have coffee shops that sell ‘handcrafted’ brews of coffee in all strengths and specialty brews with Italian names: Espresso, Latte, Cappuccino, Americano, Frappucino. Recently I tried a cold-brewed coffee that was infused with nitrogen (it was good). Then there are all the flavors from pumpkin spice to cinnamon dolce to oatmilk honey …. the list goes on and on.
On the occasion I’m in a splurging mood and order one of these ‘handcrafted’ coffee brews, I usually find myself waiting for my coffee wondering if I’m missing out on something great. After all, there are so many choices and options and ways to mix coffee … I wonder if there is a better brew for me? I’m certainly not haunted by the thought of choosing poorly at the coffee counter and missing out on the ‘best coffee in the world’. It’s just that the choices makes one wonder. Then there are times when I stand at a Starbucks counter and after looking over all the choices available – I tell the attendant, “I’ll take a small drip coffee”. Spurning the choices and all the wonderful flavors I might love, I take a drip coffee knowing what it is and what I like and what I’m getting.
This takes me to the Bible and it’s basic and clear and simple message of love and grace Jesus makes to us. You may not think of the Bible as having this basic simple clear message. But it does. Theologian Karl Barth who has written huge volumes on theology and the doctrines of God was on a lecture tour. At the University of Chicago, during a Question and Answer time was asked what seemed like an impossible question, ‘In all your years of theological study could you summarize what you’ve learned in one sentence?’ To the astonishment of all Barth did not hesitate saying, “Yes I can. In the words of a song I learned at my mother’s knee: ‘Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so.’”
This is the wonderful but simple and clear message of the Bible and (probably) why John 3:16 has been so beloved as a Bible verse. In this verse, the whole message of the Bible is clearly, simply, and wonderfully expressed in the words:
““For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)
God doesn’t want His message complicated. He makes it clear. So clear, we can learn of His message on our mother’s knee in a simple song. When Jesus explained the message of God to the world in the clear words of John 3:16, we’re not left thinking of something we’re missing. There are many, many other wonderfully clear verses that directly get to God’s message of His love and grace. There was the time when Jesus was telling His disciples not to worry or be troubled but to simply trust Him. Why? Because as Jesus told them,
“I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6)
That’s a verse I can wrap my head around. It’s not that all the particulars are explained in the verse but to all my questions in some basic level the answer is simply – Jesus.
We’ve been in a study of Revelation these last weeks. It’s been hard to understand the book because the verses are anything but simple and clear. However, I hope we’ve been seeing through the complicated verses the clear message of Almighty God on His throne and in charge. I like what one man said when asked if he understood Revelation. The guy enthusiastically responded: “Do I understand Revelation? Sure I do. Jesus wins!”
This was John’s supreme confidence as he wrote the final words of Revelation. John had been given more transcendent sights and sounds than anyone alive. His head must have been swimming. Yet, at the end of the book after Jesus shared the promise to us all, “Yes, I am coming soon.” John, knowing Jesus as his majestic and loving Savior was glad to say, Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.” (Revelation 22:20)