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serving jesus christ the king

The John 3:7 Man

I’ve been asked a couple of times in recent weeks what the guy with the John 3:7 banner at the GAA matches is all about. Or more particularly, what the verse is all about. You see him standing behind the goal on most of the televised matches.

The guy’s name is Frank Hogan, he’s from Limerick, and loves his Gaelic. The first time he displayed the John 3:7 banner was at a hurling match in Croke Park nearly 25 years ago. Since then he has carried the banner the length and breadth of Ireland to hurling and football matches. He is almost as much a part of the establishment as the game itself.

But why? The answer lies in Frank’s own story which I came across on a website:

Frank’s parents had six children. Like his three brothers and two sisters, Frank was baptised and confirmed. They attended church regularly. One day Frank was confronted with the fact that because of his sin he was separated from God, and church membership or sacraments couldn’t deal with the problem. These could not reconcile him to God and save his soul.

September 28
th, 1976 was a landmark day. Frank found out that getting right with God isn’t about belonging or performing; it’s about what Jesus did on the cross. He discovered that Jesus had died on the cross as his substitute, and by doing this had paid the penalty for his sins. At 11 pm, in the front room of his home, Frank turned from his sin and asked Jesus for forgiveness. He put his trust in Christ, believing that Jesus had purchased a pardon for his sins through His sufferings and death on the cross.

But what’s that got to do with John 3:7? The verse reads:
‘Jesus said, “You must be born again”’

The verse simply reflects what Frank found he needed to experience. All of us are like a soiled page before God. Our own efforts at cleaning only rub the stains in deeper. We need a fresh start, a new page to our lives. And this fresh start is not something that comes from within us, but something that comes from God. It is not something we work up in ourselves by effort or devotion.

When Jesus said “
You must be born again” he was speaking to a deeply religious man, and he was seeking to show him that his religiousness wasn’t enough. The problem is more deep rooted than we realise and therefore the solution has to be more radical than we first think.

‘John 3:7’ points us to the good news. It tells us that a new start is wonderfully possible. God can bring about a change of heart in men and women. Jesus can give you a new birth, a new start and a new life. He died on the cross to make the new start possible. He is alive today and can deal with your sin and give you a new start if you will admit your need and seek after Him, like Frank did.

When we turn from our disobeying or ignoring of him, and we put our trust in Jesus for acceptance and forgiveness—then we find God’s fresh start. And when that happens you want people to know. And Frank’s way of raising folk’s curiosity is to hold up his banner that points people to this verse.

Next time you see his banner I hope you will understand it better.