We’re moving from Joshua to new territory. In the next few blogs, I plan to share what I call “life verses.” That is, verses that have played a particular role in my life experiences.
I begin with John 3:16. Probably no other verse is more widely known than this one. We don’t even have to mention the first few words to recognize the verse. If you’ve been in church for any length of time, you likely know the verse strictly by its reference—John 3:16.
We’ve seen it on billboards, even across Tim Teebow’s forehead. It’s the gospel message all in one verse. It tells what God has done for us and what he expects of us.
For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him shall not perish but have everlasting life. John 3:16 KJV
At least, that’s how many of us learned it many years ago.
Do you know the circumstances of the context of this verse? Do you know that these are Jesus’ words? Do you know to whom he was talking when he said this? Do you know what the “for” is for at the beginning of the verse? Well, let’s break it down.
The setting is a nighttime discussion with the Pharisee, Nicodemus. (Warning! Sales pitch coming!) For more information on Nicodemus, order A Heart for Truth by Joyce Cordell. (smiley face)
At this point, Nicodemus is not a believer, but a seeker. Jesus teaches him about being born again, not physically, but spiritually, in the inner man.
Jesus mentions an Old Testament incident to Nicodemus where Moses had lifted up a rod with a snake carved on the end. The people were being bitten by snakes, but if they looked up at the rod they would be healed. Jesus went on to say,
“…so the Son of Man must be lifted up, [on the cross] that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life. [Thus] 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. John 3:14-16 NIV
One of my pastors gave a meaningful, easy-to-remember description of this verse. First, we see two things about God. God loved us, his creation, and God gave us his Son. Then, two things about ourselves. If we believe in that Son, we will have eternal life.
To put it simply—God loved, God gave. If we believe, we receive.
For my life application: I was eight years old when I believed that Jesus died for me. It was an innocent, childlike faith, but sincere. I was not a bold-faced, long-time sinner, but I knew that I wanted to be guided by God. It was a beginning. As I have aged and experienced earthly life with him, it makes me look forward to forever life with him.
Do you have a story to go with John 3:16?
~ Joyce ~