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4th Sunday of Lent (Ages 6-9): Filling Us With Eternal Life

(for the 6-9 yr old, just verses 14-16)


In the Gospel for this Sunday, Jesus speaks to a man named Nicodemus. Nicodemus is a Pharisee. He studies scripture and knows well what God teaches. He finds Jesus very interesting and wants to know more about him. He chooses to come to visit Jesus at night. We have to wonder why he visits Jesus at nighttime.

While they speak together, Jesus says,

“And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.
“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.

Jesus repeats himself several times in these two short sentences. We know that repetition points to something important.

Jesus repeats the words, "may have eternal life."

We know that Jesus has eternal life. Why?

We could say, "Because he is God," but we might miss something else that is important.

Jesus also repeats the words, "lifted up" two times.

We know that Jesus is lifted up in two ways, right? Let's think:

First, his body is lifted up on the cross.

Jesus is so good, he gives so much, yet it seems that all the sin in the world is too much for him. It seems like the darkness is stronger than the light. All the bad choices, all the sin, all the darkness add up to his death. He dies on the cross.

But we know Jesus is lifted up in another way. On the third day, God lifts up Jesus to new life. God fills Jesus with the Risen life. God gives Jesus eternal life. In the resurrection of Jesus, we see the truth that the Light is actually stronger than the darkness.

Maybe these two moments of lifting up are joined together by more than words. Maybe Jesus' death and resurrection are really one event with two moments. Through the cross to eternal life.

Through the cross? Does God want all of us to die on a cross? No. But God does want to fill us with eternal life. Jesus says so, twice. God so loves the world—it is not enough for God that Jesus alone has eternal life. Then how do we get this eternal life?

The other words Jesus repeats are, "believes in him."

Those who believe in him may have eternal life. 

What can Jesus mean by "believe in him"?

If we say to someone, "Do you believe in me?"—we would not mean, "Do you think I exist? Do you think I am part of your imagination?" Of course not.

If we ask someone, "Do you believe in me?" we mean, "Do you trust in me? Do you know I will do what I promise?"

When Jesus tells Nicodemus—the man who comes to him in the darkness—that all who believe in him may have eternal life, perhaps this is what he means.

Trust that light is stronger than darkness.

Trust that life will conquer death.

Trust that our sins are not too much for Jesus.

Know that Jesus will do what he promises.

Our parents bring us to be baptized because they trust that light is stronger than darkness. They know that Jesus will do what he promises. In the waters of Baptism, we receive the Holy Spirit and the promise of eternal life.

We show that we trust that our sins are not too much for Jesus when we go to the sacrament of Reconciliation. We speak our sins out loud, so they cannot hide inside. We bring our sin to the Light. And the Holy Spirit removes our sin, making room for even more life of the Risen Jesus to fill us.

Eternal life, because we believe in him.

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