Most of us who grew up in a church know John 3:16 and can recite it without even thinking.
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.”
The entire Gospel is in that verse. God loves everyone in the world – each and every person. He sent His only Son, Jesus, into the world so that we could see God with a face. Then He let that Son die to take our punishment so that we can join the family of God. All we need to do is believe in this truth and accept it as the guiding pulse of our lives. When we do that, our eternal address will be changed from hell to heaven.
An interesting comparative verse appears in 1 John 3:16.
“We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for others.”
The Apostle John wrote both of these verses which underscore how Jesus gave Himself for us. He laid down His life – not just ascetically with His willingness to live in our wicked world, but also literally when He was tortured and killed. John repeated this truth in two of his books, using the same address of 3:16 – just so we wouldn’t forget.
The life and death of Jesus was and still is the prime example of love. To love someone with body, soul and spirit involves sacrifice – a willingness to cancel the desires of the self and think first of the other person. Most of us have difficulty with that. But Jesus went all the way to the cross and through the horrors of death for us. He mirrored love by making the ultimate sacrifice. Then He challenged us to love others with that same intensity and show the Gospel to them.