My mission and your mission is to say to the world “God loves you, and here’s how much. Now what will you do about it?” So, I want to look at John 3:16 and see what the fullness of the message is that we have the task of sharing.
John 3:16 is the best known Bible verse both among believers and non-believers. However, it is also, by survey, the least understood. So, this is an important series of blogs that will be worth saving to your tablet or phone so that you can review them often. Just a suggestion.
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (ESV).
“This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life” (MSG).
“For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life” (NLT).
So, how did John 3:16 come to be?
You might think that since the message of John 3:16 is for the entire world, it would have been delivered to a large assembly, maybe even Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount (Matthew, chapters 5 to 7) or in some of His discourses in the temple. Instead, it was spoken privately to a single person. Nicodemus was a leading member of the ruling Jewish Council, the Sanhedrin. Jesus had aroused the anger and opposition of these Jewish leaders because of His claims to be the Son of God and what they saw as His disregard for some of their laws.
But Nicodemus was not so sure. He had seen the miracles of Jesus, and he could not write Him off as easily as his peers. We must remember that Nicodemus, like all Jews, saw himself as one of God’s chosen people in a highly exclusive sense. They belonged to God by virtue of their birth into His favoured race. Their coming Messiah would destroy all Gentiles— especially the hated Romans who occupied Israel. Could Jesus be the man? Nicodemus wanted to find out. So to avoid censure of the Sanhedrin, he sneaked out at night to see Jesus alone.
But the conversation did not go at all like Nicodemus expected. Jesus began confusing him with talk about being born again and how the Spirit of God is like the wind, blowing wherever it chooses. Jesus was telling him that the Spirit would soon move even outside the Jewish nation and enter the hearts of Gentiles all over the earth. Then, just in case Nicodemus was still confused, Jesus drove the message home in words no one could fail to understand: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life”
God loves the world, Nicodemus; not just the Jews, but the whole world! The door to God is open to all people. It is not a matter of birth; it’s a matter of belief.
To this one open seeker, Jesus delivered the striking message that summarizes the whole Gospel. Here He laid the foundation for humankind’s relationship with God. It’s not a foundation of judgment or condemnation; it’s a foundation of pure love. In John 3:16, Jesus told Nicodemus — and the rest of us as well — that God would do anything to save us. Even if He has to die to do it. He loves us that much.
Now that we have seen something of the context of the verse and the impact it would have had on this religious man (and the world), let’s take some time this week and take a brief walk through the verse (John 3:16) and explore seven life-changing realities about the amazing love of God.
1> God’s love is extravagant
2> God’s love is extensive
3> God’s love is expensive
4> God’s love is expansive
5> God’s love is exclusive
6> God’s love is exceptional
7> God’s love is eternal
More next time….