"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 3:16
John 3:16 is one of those verses from the Bible that almost everyone in the world knows or has at least heard a time or two. It’s almost become ubiquitous, showing up at every sporting event for the past 30 years. This verse has taken on a life of its own, and may I daresay, has been diminished greatly. We recite it as rote--without really taking stock of what it means.
What are the most important words in this verse? Is it the phrase “eternal life”? “Believes”? “So loved”?
I guess the answer to that question could be different for everyone, but for me, the two most important words in that verse are “He gave.”
When I was just eleven years old, my only brother, just nine years old and my parents’ only son, was taken from us in a tragic accident. I grew up in a home that knew grief. I knew firsthand what it was like for a father to lose his only son.
And I knew that my earthly father would never willingly give his only son.
But God did. And surely it caused just as much grief for a Heavenly Father to give up his only son as it did my earthly father to lose his.
From the beginning of time, God knew that some sacrifice, not just birds or calves, would have to be made for the sins of the whole world. He knew that the sacrifice would have to be significant—once for all. He knew that it would involve His son. His only son. As I began to contemplate God’s grief I began to see that this sacrifice—all for me—was huge.
This perfect God did something no earthly father would ever do—He gave.
I love this quote from John Calvin, a great theologian from the Protestant reformation of the 1500’s. Calvin said, “Men are not easily convinced that God loves them; and so, to remove all doubt, He has expressly stated that we are so very dear to God that for our sakes He did not spare even His only begotten Son. God has most abundantly declared His love toward us and therefore whoever is still doubtful and unsatisfied by this testimony does Christ a serious injury, as if He had been some ordinary man who had died accidentally. We should rather consider that God’s love for His only begotten Son is a measure of how precious our salvation was to Him, that He willed that the death of the Only Begotten himself should be its price.”
This Easter season I’ve been thinking a lot about how precious my salvation was to God. So precious, so valuable, that He gave His only Son. It was no accident. It was voluntary. And it was all for love.
Romans 8: 32: “He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?”
Friends, I spend a lot of time goofing around on this blog. I have a lot of fun with it. But I also understand its power, and today I feel a compelling need to tell you that the sacrifice God made in giving up His son wasn’t just for me. It was for you too.
I hope you’ll embrace that sacrifice. Live in it. Love it. Accept it.
And tomorrow, Easter Sunday, I hope you'll celebrate it with me.