God So Loved Us

Day 2: John 3:16

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life." (ESV)

Key Thoughts


  • God loves us
  • Jesus was a gift
  • Belief in God's son saves us from perishing

This verse is everywhere.  It's so common to see that it's easy for Christians to start to gloss over.  It's practically Christianity 101.  I'm willing to bet a lot of Christians see this verse and start thinking, "Yeah, yeah - God loved the world and sent Jesus to save us; I've already covered this part when I got saved."  I have to admit that I'm one of them most of the time.  But because this verse summarizes the basic foundational truths of the faith it needs to be given more than a cursory thought.

I found it useful to look at the broader context of the passage.  Nicodemus the Pharisee has just come to Jesus to discuss spiritual truths, and Jesus makes an analogy in verses 14 and 15: "And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life."  It's worth noting that, in Numbers 21:6-9, only after repentance and prayer were the Israelites given salvation from the snakes.  So it is with Jesus; we must repent and pray as well to gain salvation.  Belief in him is a serious, committed act of the heart.  Yet, though salvation comes after prayer, Jesus was still given to us first because God loved us.

Key Verse

So... the journaling guidelines for the 31-Day Scripture Challenge say to "write out word for word the Key Verse of the passage in which God spoke to you."  Given that a lot of the daily passages are single verses, either the guide was cribbed off a more in-depth study, or we are expected to do a lot of cross-referencing.  So in that spirit, I choose to write out verse 17:

"For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him." (ESV)
God loved us; He did not want to condemn us.  While the Israelites had to see their sin and repent of it before God allowed Moses to give them the totem of His salvation, He gave us His Son first, to help us understand He is not first a God of judgement but of love. 


How should my life become a proper response to this passage?

The obvious answer is "believe in the God who loves me."  But this is easier to say than to do.  What exactly does that kind of belief look like?  The most tangible way to relate to God is through the words He left us in the Bible.  Committing to really study those words is a good first step.  But it has to be more than just reciting chapter and verse; the words have to become a foundation for the way I live my life.  That means trusting the words even when they aren't convenient or don't make sense.  Words like "love thy neighbor as thyself" can be some of the hardest ones to live by, yet they are the most important ones.  So important, in fact, that Jesus began to prepare his disciples for his imminent crucifixion with these words:
 "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (Jn 13:34-35 ESV)


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