“For God so loved the world, that He gave his only begotten son that whosoever believes in him shall not perish but have everlasting life.”
John 3:16, NIV
I first learned these words as a young child. They are probably the most well-known verse in the whole Bible. With childish understanding I had learned and understood that Jesus loved me so much He died for me. The message deeply impacted me and even though I was very young I knew Jesus and I knew he loved me.
One day, after a now long-forgotten childish escapade, when my parents had discovered the outworking of some original sin, I felt the consequences of parental displeasure. As I came to terms with the discipline I had just experienced I was heard, through my sobs, as I sat on the bottom of the stairs, to be saying, “Nobody loves me! Nobody loves me!” But then, barely whispered through the tears came the words, “Yes, Jesus loves me!”
I knew I’d done wrong, but I also knew that the word ‘whosoever’ from John 3:16 meant that I was included within the meaning of the verse and that Jesus still loved me! We are never too young or too old to need to know this profound truth – that the word ‘whosoever’ is all inclusive for all those who believe. And that the verse does not say that there is any extent of sin which places us outside the love of God. His arms are spread wide to welcome ALL who believe.
The message of this verse may be simple, but as with many things in life it is often the most simple things that are the most profound. Today I often have to speak with both men and women who have gone a long way off track and in their returning to the Lord have poured out their heart about the extent of sin they have wilfully experienced – some find it hard to believe that the message of John 3:16 truly is for them and that they are still loved and wanted. But the Scripture says that this message is for all who believe – it even included John Newton, the notorious former slave trader who later wrote “Amazing Grace.” He had understood the amazing grace of God for all that is implicit in this most wonderful of verses.
If you are struggling with believing that its message includes you, maybe now’s the time to find the bottom step of a staircase and through the sobs of repentance to hear God’s word in your heart and respond with the words that meant everything to me as a child, “Yes, Jesus loves me!”
Prayer: Thank You, Jesus, that there is no sinner who is beyond the extent of your love – and that the words of John 3:16 were written as a message to me from the One who loved me so much He died for me. In Jesus’s Name, Amen.