JOHN 3:16-21 (NIV – UK)
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. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. 19 This is the verdict: light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. 20 Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. 21 But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.
THIS IS HOW GOD HAS LOVED THE WORLD
Perhaps one of the most well known verses in the whole of the Bible: ‘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’ (v. 16). It’s a wonderfully comforting verse and is understandable why so many of us know it. Sometimes we can miss the full beauty of this verse, though. We can read it like this: ‘For God loved the world SO MUCH that he gave his only Son…’ I’m sure God does love the world so much – his love is infinitely deep and wide – but that’s not precisely what this verse means to communicate to us. No, our English translation can sometimes be slightly misleading, because the ‘so’ is actually more of a ‘thus’. This means we should read it more like this: ‘God loved the world in this way: he gave his only Son…’ And reading it that way instantly changes the meaning and focuses our attention. It draws our minds away from a general sort of love that God might have for the world and focuses our attention on a very specific way in which God has loved us – by sending his Son to us.
This makes a difference for us in so many ways, but a couple of the most important are:
1. It means that in order to know God’s love we must receive his Son. Jesus is the way by which God has chosen to love us, and it is in Jesus that we find the love of God in abundance – most notably when we look at Jesus’ sacrifice for us on the Cross – the ultimate act of love.
2. It means that the most loving thing we can ever do for another person is share Jesus with them. The other person may not realise that is the most loving thing we could possibly do for them, but it is.
Jesus doesn’t want to see one single person condemned (v. 17) – but life without him is condemnation (v. 18). The love of God is such that we are freely offered, by the grace of God, the opportunity to turn to Jesus and be saved. This is a love we surely want to share? This is a love we must share – the incredible gift of Jesus as our love and saviour.
Question: Do you have friends or family members who don’t yet know Jesus? Have you ever tried to share our faith with them? How did it go? Do you pray for them?