There is a good chance that you have heard of John 3:16. It’s one of the most popularly quoted verse in the Bible. It’s one that many Christians have committed to memory. Do you know there is a lot more to what is being quoted? In fact, this popular verse is not the last one in that chapter. There are two more and a couple of important Scriptures before it.
I would like to invite you into a deeper dive into these set of Scriptures. I can assure there are some wonderful treasures hidden in what is being said.
In preparing to do today’s reading of John 3:16-18, it immediately became clear that a detailed article is warranted. In this video, I only focused on one key component. Hence the short time stamp.
My focus is on God’s perfect love for all of humanity and not a select few. How can I be certain? It’s because I checked the underlying Greek for this verse.
Don’t worry. I’ll keep it simple and not overload you with Greek. Yet, it is important that I share the following key Greek word. As you may know, the Bible is originally written in Greek and Hebrew. Wouldn’t you know it? There is not an exact 1:1 ratio for every Greek words translated into English or vice versa.
Let’s start with the Greek word for Love. Not so fast! There are three distinct ancient Greek words for the one English word, love. It’s “Eros”, “Philia”, and “Agape”. I did a quick search and it seems there are a few more. Here’s the one in John 3:16.
to love, value, esteem, feel or manifest generous concern for, be faithful towards; to delight in, to set store upon, Rev. 12:11Found on BibleGateway
It’s this type of love that compels God to send Jesus to this world. It’s this love for all humanity that Jesus was willing to pay the price for our sins. It’s this kind of love that says “I am not okay with what is happening to those that you love. It’s the type of love that a mother or father has for his or her children.
Here is the key difference between humans and God. We will always fall short and blow it when it comes to agapaō. On the other hand, God is able to perfectly love broken humanity. That is you and me. I don’t know about you. But my imperfect parents were never okay if their children were hurting or trapped in addiction. They’d do whatever it takes to help.
Should I expect my perfect Heavenly Father to do less? I don’t think so! What is the underlying reason that God sent Jesus to deal with? There is not one human being who can say that they are perfect. Why is this the case? It’s because humanity has a problem with sin and it’s dragging our butt into Hell. It’s all because there is a price tag attacked to it.
23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.Romans 6:23 NASB ’95
With humans, we see sin in terms of degrees. It’s why we don’t think of our bad behaviors as bad as other people. With God, it is a totally different story and God is the one who made humans in His Image. There is one other thing that’s important and it will help answer a question that some may have.
God is holy and no humans can look upon God’s face and live. It’s all because we’re being strangled in our sins. If God is love then why doesn’t God overlook at our sinful nature? For God, all sins are the same. That’s right! Though I’ve stayed out of trouble, my sins have the same price tag as someone in the mafia; death.
Do you think I’m exaggerating? Here’s what God told Moses in Exodus 33:19-21. Moses was asking to look at God’s face.
19 And He said, “I Myself will make all My goodness pass before you, and will proclaim the name of the Lord before you; and I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show compassion on whom I will show compassion.” 20 But He said, “You cannot see My face, for no man can see Me and live!” 21 Then the Lord said, “Behold, there is a place by Me, and you shall stand there on the rock;Exodus 33:19-21 NASB ’95
It’s all because of our sinful nature that we can’t approach God. Do you think God, the Father was happy about that situation? No, our sin nature had a price tag and it needed to be paid. It is because of God’s perfect love for humanity that Jesus came and willingly endured the Cross. It’s all done because of God’s great love for you and me.
There is one more issue before I dive into John 3:17-18. Whether you know it not, all human beings have free will. Yes, God is Sovereign and he is in control. By control, I don’t mean God is a puppet master. I am talking about God is the one who set the boundaries and all must give an account to. It’s because of this, I will seek to ask Jesus about what is happening.
Because humans have free will, I am free to co-labor with God in what my Father is doing or not. I’m also free to say “Yes” to the precious gift of salvation offered to me because of what Jesus has done. It’s worth knowing that God is not going to override our free will. It’s up to the individuals to choose what path they’ll take.
True love requires freedom or it’s not really love but coercion. In the end, we are responsible for the choices that we choose to make. Did I mention that the gift of salvation is free? God knew that we could never do enough to earn our way into Heaven. The Israelites have been trying that path and fallen short, many times.
There was only one solution and it is through Jesus’ sacrificial death on the Cross that a way into God’s presence has opened. Here’s what Paul says in Ephesians 2:7-8.
7 so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9 not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.Ephesians 2:7-8 NASB ’95
Sounds good. Doesn’t it? What is the problem, though? When it comes to our sin nature, there is an underlying fear of punishment and a fear of the other shoe dropping on them. In this case, I am talking about a fear of condemnation or judgement. It’s likely for this reason that Jesus says the following:
17 For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. 18 He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
I suggest that you carefully read the above verse. It is our sins that is condemning you and me; not God. He is the one who sent Jesus to SAVE us from the fatal consequences of our sins. It is through faith in Jesus that we are set free and do not need to fear judgement or condemnation. It’s all because of what Jesus has done.
Sadly, it only the ones who refuse this precious gift that suffers the consequences of their choice. Because God is love, he is not going to override their choice. It would be cruel to allow them to stay where they don’t want to be. It does not have to be this way! According to 2 Peter 3:9, “The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.”
Repentance simply means a turning away from our sins and receiving God’s forgiveness and grace. It’s saying yes to Jesus and God’s deliverance. It’s saying “Yes” to being set free from the bondage of sin and its consequences. If you want a great example of what repentance looks like then read the story of the Prodigal Son. Read it, slow. Don’t speed read it.
You may be asking, “Do I have to perform a ritual or something?” Here’s what Paul says in Romans 10:8-10.
8 But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart”—that is, the word of faith which we are preaching, 9 that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; 10 for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.Romans 10:8-10 NASB ’95
When I came to Christ, I did not sit at my bedside and named all of my sins. Truth is, I really didn’t know what they were. I simply recognized that I needed saving and asked Jesus to help me with my sins. It’s because I accepted the free gift of salvation that I became a new creation and have been sealed with the gift of the Holy Spirit.
It was the Holy Spirit helping me in the above situation. God can do the same thing for you, too. Don’t be afraid to ask God to help you. No, you won’t be turned into a perfect person. Sorry, it is a process that takes a lifetime and you won’t be alone in it.