For God So Loved… – John 3:16
This message is a part of our series on the Gospel of John.
Find the rest of the messages in this series here.
We’ve had a wonderful week of VBS and we are so thankful that you allowed your kids and grandkids to be a part of it! This year was different for me because for the first time both of my children are old enough to be part of the full VBS schedule.
We offer toddler and nursery care for our volunteers so that our many volunteers with young one can still help out, so my children have been at every VBS since they were born, but my youngest turned 5 this past year so he was part of the full program.
It hit me this week when during one of our review games Lincoln raised his hand and answered a question and his answer wasn’t correct and you could see the disappointment on his face.
Lincoln shook it off pretty quickly because that’s just his personality. I aspire to be as chill as Lincoln is… Last week he found a snake in the yard and he said as calmly as possible, hey mom there’s a snake over here.
As your kids get older there is less and less you know about their lives. When he or she is a baby you know about every face they make, every word they can say, every dirty diaper they have… How many of you are glad you don’t have to know about every time your kid goes to the bathroom these days???
As they get older, they develop their own life, their own world, and as parents we spend the rest of our lives trying to catch as much of it as we possibly can. How many of you remember picking your child up from the first day of school and they told you all about everything they did and all the friends they made…
How many of you have 5th graders and all you get when you ask them how was your day is
“ugh. I dunno….”
Through the week we want to share as much as we can with the whole family and that’s the reason we post all of the pictures (our photographers took over 2,500 photos this week!) and we send the emails and send home the memory verses…
Today I want to start my message by sharing a little bit of what we’ve taught your children this week. Through the whole week we’ve focused on the wild but true story of Joseph.
Joseph went through catastrophe after catastrophe in his life. He was betrayed by his own brothers, sold into slavery, accused and convicted (without a trial) of a crime he didn’t commit, and then on top of that he was forgotten.
Every day of sharing Joseph’s story was a new calamity that was happening to him… I was worried that the kids would grow weary of hearing the story of guy who everything went badly for…
We don’t watch superhero movies to watch them lose…
So I kept telling the kids that through all of this, God was with Joseph and that he had a plan…
We hope your kids have grabbed a hold of the idea through the lessons, the song, and the verses, that when things are hard and tough, God is still with us.
God had a purpose in all of Jospeh’s life and because of the path he took through all of the adversity and difficulty, Joseph ended up saving thousands if not millions of lives.
God gives a “why.” to our “what?”
Here at our church we’ve been making our way week by week through the gospel of John which is Jesus’ life story as told by his best friend.
In the verse of scripture that we are covering today, John gives us a single verse that is a good summation of Jesus’ purpose.
In fact, it’s a good summation of the purpose of the whole Bible and gospel narrative throughout all of time.
Because this verse is such a great succinct communication of this purpose, many people have memorized it. Probably more than any other passage in the Bible…
People put it on bumper stickers and hold up signs with it written on it at ballgames…
However, this most familiar verse of scripture is less familiar in our day and age. We know this because several years back when Tim Tebow was in the College Football National championship
John 3:16 on his eye black and “what is John 3:16” became the #1 search trend on Google that night.
I don’t want to assume you’re familiar with this passage, so let me read it to you.
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
This verse is so important. SO important.
It may be that you’re here today and you’re not much of a church person. You’re not very religious. You don’t enjoy thinking about God because when you think about God, you think about what God must think about you…
You think that God must think you’re not that great…
- Because you think you’re not that great…
- Because others think you’re not that great…
I read Tommy Tomlinson’s book Elephant in the Room earlier this year. It’s all about how Tomlinson is successful in almost every area of his life, except for his weight.
He weighed over 460 lbs when he started writing the book…
He said that he came to realize that there was a radio station always playing in the background of his mind called
“You Stink FM.”
God doesn’t think about you like you think about you.
God doesn’t think about you like other people think about you.
God SO loved the WORLD.
There are 2 ways that this verse emphasizes the intensity of God’s love- so loved.
I use the word “soooo” a lot.
That’s not common in scripture…
The World – Nicodemus the religious guy that Jesus has been talking to would have understood God to love his people- the religious people of Israel- or perhaps the people of Israel…
Here, John makes it clear that this love is for all mankind.
It’s for everyone. No matter where they’re from.
No matter what tribe or group they belong to…
No matter what life they have lived…
God doesn’t love you because you’re special.
God doesn’t love you because you’re favored.
God doesn’t love you because you do the right things,
Vote the right way
Belong to the right family,
Or go to the right church…
God loves you because of who He is.
Not because of who you are.
What John 3:16 makes clear is that
The existence of God’s love for you does not depend on your behavior or nature.
God showed His love for us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
However, the verse doesn’t end at For God so loved the World…
It says that He gave his only begotten son…
Which means one and only- and it’s only used to refer to children. You don’t have a begotten truck. It might be your one and only truck, but it’s not your kid. You might love it like one of your kids, but you didn’t bring it into this world.
Ford Motor Company did.
General Motors did.
that whosoever believeth in him should not PERISH.
Why is the word perish in there?
Eternal life vs. Destruction.
The existence of God’s love for you does not depend on your behavior or nature, but your experience of the love of God depends on your relationship with Him.
If you are a student of the Bible you know that there have been several times that God punished people. He brought judgment upon them. When people read these things, they struggle to reconcile the two images of God, as if they are different entities…
DA Carson pointed out one of the most striking contrasts of this. God said of Moab in the book of Isaiah, they will be left to lie in their own filth… they will become objects of ridicule and their punishment will be swift and sure…
Of those same people Isaiah writes that God is grieved over them and mourns for them. He is heartbroken for them…
I watched as couples go through heartache and I’ve worked with them to try and save the relationship, but eventually there comes a point where one spouse has to let the other one go because they are committed to destruction…
I’ve had friends, people I care about come to a place where I’ve had to say, I love him, I love her, but I can’t bring my family around them because they’ve come to the point of destructive behavior that’s a danger to them and others…
When we perish, it’s not God sending us to our doom, but rather him letting us go to what we are literally hellbent to pursue.
Jesus came so that we could be saved from our own destructive behavior and nature.
The truth is that all of us do things we know aren’t good for us, not good for our families, and not honoring to God.
No matter how much we dedicate ourselves to living the good life, to doing the right things, to being the parent we know our kids need, we fall short…
We perish…We don’t know how to be truly different.
Just as God gives a “why.” to our “what?”
Jesus gives a “who.” to our “how?”