By Joslyn Jayaram
John 3:16-17 New International Version (NIV)
16 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. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.
Wow, I have the amazing honor and privilege to write this morning about John 3:16! It’s no wonder this verse is so often quoted and memorized, it summarizes our beliefs in a sentence! However, for this morning, let’s jump into it phrase by phrase.
1- “God so loved the world”- Isn’t that amazing? We could stop right there and feel the awe. Why does this Holy, Perfect God love us? I don’t seem to understand it at times, but it doesn’t change the fact that it’s true! Just like a toddler in the middle of a temper tantrum hasn’t changed the measure of his parents’ love, neither can we do anything that decreases or increases God’s love for us! God loves us to the maximum right now! God loves the whole world, in fact, he SO loves the world!
2- “He gave”- We made the mistake, we decided life is better without serving any god except ourselves. Even when we turn back to Him and try to follow the rules of a Holy life, we still fall short… so God stepped in. He decided to help us in our pitiful state, unable to help ourselves. Love is an action, and God acted by giving. Oh man… it brings me back to the first point, God so loves us!
3- “His one and only Son”- Jesus is it. He’s the One. The whole book of John builds this case, so if you are not sure, please continue to read with us and read on your own. There is no other. Jesus put it plainly when He said, ““I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” [John 14:6]
4- “Whoever believes in Him”- Now, this is our part. “Whoever” means anyone! It doesn’t matter if you have lived the best life or the worst. It doesn’t matter if you are rich or poor, if you grew up Christian or grew up Buddhist. It doesn’t matter, “whoever” is an open invitation to the world. Anyone can believe. Will we choose to do it? Isn’t God amazing that He doesn’t force anything on us? He wants us to come to the conclusion to choose Him, to believe in Him, to love Him, to have faith in Him on our own. Use your head! This isn’t a mindless faith. Something doesn’t make sense? Go ahead, ask around, look for the answer in His word! Believing in Him doesn’t mean that you have it all figured it out, that every question is answered. It’s just like believing in the love you have for your spouse doesn’t mean that you know without a doubt what the future will hold in marriage. Belief comes with trust. Belief comes with action. This believe will change us…forever!
5- “Shall not perish but have eternal life”- See, what I mean? Forever! This is the guarantee. We weren’t made just for this life. We were made for so much more. There’s hope!
Let’s look at verse 17 too. “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.”
So often Christianity gets caught up “condemning” the world. People are angry at the Church for their judgement. However, Jesus has a very different message. It’s not about condemnation, it’s about salvation. Which message are you believing? Which message does your life share to others? Do you believe in a salvation so simple, yet so profound, it can be explained in one sentence?
Father, I thank You for Your love and salvation. Today I choose to believe in Your love, in Your Son, and the eternal life You have planned for me. Let that belief change me and bring me a joy that’s contagious. Forgive me when I condemn myself, and those around me. Help me not make Christianity into something it’s not. I pray that the true message, the true Good News can be preached to the world: that You, Jesus came to give salvation to anyone who believes.