I had the privilege of being in the room when all three of my children were born. While scans are nice, pictures on the screen are great, It’s a particularly special moment when you get to see your child for the first time, in the flesh. Even if they’re covered in sticky goop, and with their tiny squished up faces.
I felt a deep sense of love for them when I first saw my children. You want to do anything for your child. You want to protect, nurture them, and keep them from danger. And if that is the love of an earthly parent to a child.. Then imagine the love of a heavenly parent, in one sense, for his earthly children.
That’s what we see in John, 3 verse 16. As God is saying to us, as his children, who are fault, in our shame, in our weakness, disappointment, and sin. It’s him saying to us… ‘don’t you know that I love you?’
God’s love for the world
In the first part of John 3:16, we see God’s love for the world.
Verse 16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son…”
Now you might be thinking, sure that’s nice. We kinda of expect God would love the world. But we’ve got to get the shock value of what Jesus is saying.
We’ve got to understand the kind of world that God loves.
In John’s writings, the ‘world’ is not normally referring to planet earth. That’s what we might normally think about the world right… plants, rivers, cities. The billions of people who live upon this earth. But that’s not actually what Jesus is talking about here. He’s not talking about how big God’s love for the world is, but the shock that he’d love the world at all.
In John’s writings, the world refers to people, and in particular people who are hostile toward God. So for example, in John chapter 1 verse 10 it says about Jesus, that “He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him.” In other words, God made this world through Jesus but the world, humanity, did not know him. In John chapter 7, Jesus describes the ‘world’ as those who ‘hate’ him. In John chapter 15, verse 18 Jesus says “If the world hates you, remember that they hated me first.’”
The world refers to people who don’t recognise Jesus and don’t want to know Jesus. The world is people who hate God. So, you see, that is the kind of love that God has. He loved people who hate him. So when it says in John chapter 3, verse 16, that God so loved the world. It’s talking about a kind of love that not only embraces those who haven’t loved him in return. It’s a heavenly love for his earthly children, even for those who have hated him in return. That’s kind of love that Jesus says God has for the world.
God so loved the world, the world that is putting its hope in people, projects and passions that aren’t God.
God so loved the world, the world that finds its deepest meaning from all kinds of things apart from the God who loves them.
God so loved the world, the world who rejected him, the world who has ignored him.
God so loved the world….with a kind of love that moved him to give his one and only Son.
Now I mentioned before about being there for the birth of my children. I remember those moments in the hospital at night time. It was dark in the maternity ward. Visiting hours are over, it’s quiet. I remember just sitting there staring at the little bundle asleep in the cot. This tiny thing giving so much joy to us as parents. Think about the love of a parent for a child. And then about the love God has for us, that gives his only Son. What a gift that is.
In our family, we normally give gifts at Christmas time. We have the added fun of three extra birthdays in the lead up to Christmas. We’re now 2 birthday’s in. And now one more to go, before we hit December 25. We buy gifts for our kids. Why do we do that? Because a birthday is a significant occasion. That’s normally the way things work with gift giving. You give gifts for acheivements. For special days. For milestones. But not so with God. God gives his Son, not because he owes us anything or because we’re so lovely. Rather, he gives because he loves.
God gave his very best. The most precious. The most costly. Most treasured gift of all.
God loves the world that is going to perish
“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.”
In the second part of verse 16, we see that God loves the world that is going to perish.
Christ comes into this world that is already condemned (verse 18). Why? Because of our sin, our hatred of God. But the glory of the good news of Jesus, the gospel, is that Christ came to save.
He offers a way to escape from condemnation. The claim of Christianity is that Jesus is God in the flesh. God with us. The infinite, eternal God, born as wriggling, tiny baby. Much like my kids when they were born in the hospital.
Jesus came to bear our condemnation. He came and took upon himself the punishment for our sin. So we might be forgiven, and receive a new identity, a new heart, a new hope to live a new life.
So that, as the verse says, that we shall “not perish but have eternal life.”
That is the kind of love that God loves us with. It’s the kind of love that we all need.
We who have wandered from God. Who’ve done and said things we ought not to have done. Who’ve ignored, hated our Creator. We need that kind of love, the love of God in sending Jesus to save us.
God’s love leaves us with a choice
And so Jesus really leaves us with a question or, rather, a choice. A crossroads moment for us.
If God has so loved the world, in this kind of way, have we done what Jesus tell us to do here?
Have we believed in him?
The only remedy to escape this condemnation, is to believe. That’s the choice , would you live forever with God, and experience his eternal love for you. Or would say, no way, I want to continue without Jesus.
Jesus provides a way to escape condemnation. He offers life, eternal, forever life with God.
God’s love is so great, even greater than a parent for a child.
God love is so magnificent, that he would give his very best. His own Son.
God’s love is beautiful. That he would offer you, even you, eternal life.
So have you believed?