John 3:16 - It's the heart of the Christian message. It's a summary of the Gospel. It's the Gospel in a nutshell.
We approach this great verse by looking, first, at John 3:13-15. John 3:14 describes Jesus as the One who was "lifted up."
The significance of His being "lifted up" is brought out well in the hymn, "Man of Sorrows":
"Lifted up was He to die, 'It is finished' was His cry; Now, in heaven, exalted high; Alleluia! What a Saviour!"
Jesus was lifted up to die. He was nailed to the Cross. His death was for us. He went to the Cross for us. Through the death of Christ, we are saved from our sins.
There is, however, another "lifting up." Jesus is now, in heaven, exalted high.
Christ's story did not end with His death. It is the story of victory over death. The raising of Jesus from death is expressed powerfully in the words of the hymn:
"Up from the grave He arose, with a mighty triumph o'er His foes; He arose a Victor from the dark domain, and He lives for ever with His saints to reign: He arose! He arose! Hallelujah! Christ arose!"
Through the death and resurrection of Jesus, we have the assurance of both the forgiveness of sins and the gift of eternal life.
This is expressed, beautifully and simply, in the words of the children's hymn:
"Jesus loves me! He who died heaven's gate to open wide; He will wash away my sin, let His little child come in."
When we sing the chorus of this hymn, we are reminded that the love of Jesus is the Bible's central theme:
"Yes! Jesus loves me! The Bible tells me so."
Love is at the heart of the Bible. Love is at the heart of the Gospel.
Nowhere is this more clearly expressed than in John 3:16.
The Amplified New Testament offers us this version of this verse:
"For God so greatly loved and dearly prized the world that He (even) gave up His only-begotten (unique) Son, so that whoever believes in (trusts, clings to, relies on) Him shall not perish - come to destruction, be lost - but have eternal (everlasting) life."
Make it personal! God loves you. God gave Jesus for you. Jesus came to earth for you. Jesus died on the Cross for you. Jesus was raised again for you. Jesus offers to you the gift of eternal life. Will you come to Him now, and be sure that God loves you, that God loves you, that God has forgiven your sins, and that God is waiting to welcome you into His heavenly and eternal glory.
If you have never made it personal, I invite you to do so now.
Receive Jesus Christ as your personal Saviour and you will be able to say from your heart:
"Now I belong to Jesus, Jesus belongs to me, not for the years of time alone, but for eternity."