As we continue our look at John 3:16 and the love of God, we have seen:
1> How John 3:16 came to be
2> That God’s love is extravagant
3> God’s love is extensive
4> God’s Love Is Expensive
John 3:16 goes on to say that God the Father “gave His only begotten Son…” Only begotten means “unique” — one and only.
James Boice explains what Jesus’ uniqueness means to us: “Jesus is the unique Son of God; there is no one like Him, no one who is His equal. Therefore, because Jesus Christ is the very image of God, and because there is no one like Him, when God gave Jesus, He gave the best gift in the universe.”
Dr. Boice’s observation is another demonstration of the value God places on us. He gave the most valuable and cherished gift in His possession. He sent His one and only Son into the world to show how much we mean to him. He did this because it was the only way to rid us of our fatal addiction to sin so that He could have us with Him through all eternity.
The apostles John and Paul both attest that the preciousness of God’s gift demonstrates the extreme depth of His love for us: “In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him” (1 John 4:9). “He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?” (Romans 8:32).
There is an old film (sorry, can’t find it or I would post it) which tells the story of a farmer and his ten-year old son who were deeply devoted to each other. The two of them worked side by side on the farm, laughed and played, and spent almost all their time together.
The father also had the responsibility of switching the train that passed nearby. Each day he walked to the tracks and pulled the switch that redirected the approaching locomotive to another track.
One evening with their farm chores complete, the father and son were fishing in a stream that ran through the farm. When the father heard the distant whistle of the train, he left his son to take care of the track switch. As he walked toward the track, he did not realize that his son had decided to join him. The boy had taken a shortcut through the woods and was now walking along the tracks to meet his father.
The train approached the switching junction moving at a high speed, trusting the farmer to switch it to the track that ran straight ahead. Suddenly the farmer saw his son on that track in a place here he could not possibly get off in time. The father’s first impulse was to leave the train on its present track. But that track curved away, and the train was moving too fast to negotiate the turn. The father knew that if he switched the train, his boy would die. If he didn’t, the train would derail, and many people would die.
In that moment, the father experienced the most terrible agony imaginable. He had to weigh the life of his son against a trainload of passengers he didn’t even know. As you watch sitting on the edge of your seat the film lingers on the father’s hand as it gripped the switch. What would he do?
The question is not answered. The film concludes right there. But the message was clear: You and I were on that train, and God the Father was at the switch. We know the decision He made. He did not spare His only Son, but freely gave Him up that we all might be saved.
God also gave the best He had in another sense. As John tells us, Jesus is with God, He is God, and He is God’s Son (John 1:1-3). Though a son, He is coeternal with the Father. Exactly how all those statements can be true must remain a mystery this side of eternity. But here’s what we can know: Jesus Christ is the very image of God, but that does not mean He is a creature made in the image of God as man is. He is God incarnate. Though a man, He is the eternal God Himself.
Consequently, when God gave Jesus, He gave Himself. He gave His own life — the most expensive gift in this vast universe.
With Paul, we must stand and shout, “Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift!” (2 Corinthians 9:15).