YODER: John 3:16 comes with many directions

YODER: John 3:16 comes with many directions

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“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” (John 3:16).

John 3:16 is probably the most well-known verse in the Bible. Even if someone doesn’t know the Bible well, they’ve most likely heard John 3:16. If we never read another Bible verse, we can find salvation through this one.

Evangelist Billy Graham once said that he spent his whole life trying to preach from John 3:16. It was his life passage.

For God. God is our amazing, mighty, omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent Creator and Father. The great I Am. The Alpha and the Omega. He does not change.

For God so loved the world. We’re part of the world. God loves each one of us. In fact, he loved us so much that he sent his one and only Son to earth. His one and only.

I’ve had the privilege to know a few World War II vets. One of them served with his two brothers at the same time, but in different theaters of war. In fact, in the same week all three were taken captive as prisoners of war. One’s plane was shot down. The other two were captured on foot.

Can we begin to imagine the worry of their parents? To watch each one leave for war? To not know what would happen to them? To imagine the worse. The same boys their mother once cradled in her arms and rocked to sleep. The same ones she helped up when they fell down and skinned their knees. I’m sure she kissed their wounds. When our children are little, it’s so much easier to make everything all better.

God the Father did something we could never do. He sent his one and only Son, Jesus, to earth to be the substitute for our sins. We are all born into sin. Romans 3:23 says “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”

We cannot save ourselves from the punishment we each deserve. Even the very best person we know cannot do that. Only Jesus, the unique, one-of-a-kind Son of God could do that for us. Only Jesus could take on the sins of the whole world.

“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” (John 3:16).

Let’s think about the word “Whoever.” Whoever means anybody and everybody. It means your best friend. Your mother and father. Your neighbor. It means someone you’ve never met. It even means someone you don’t like. It means that no one is too bad or too far gone or too silly to be included in the “whoever.”

But there is one condition.

We must believe that God the Father loves us so much that he sent his one and only Son, Jesus, to earth. We must believe that Jesus was born of the virgin, Mary, in Bethlehem in a humble stable. We must believe that Jesus truly is the Son of Man and the Son of God.

We must believe that Jesus died on the cross for each one of us. It was humiliating. More painful than we can imagine. It was also a lonely journey. Jesus had a choice. He chose us. And so did God the Father by allowing his Son to take the sins of the whole world onto himself. “For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Corinthians 5:21).

That means that the One who knew no sin, Jesus, became sin for us. He bore all the sins. The Father couldn’t be with him at this time. Sin separates us from God. So Jesus bore all of our sins alone. All alone.

“About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, ‘Eli Eli lema sabachthani?’ (which means, ‘My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?’)’ (Matthew 27:46).

We must believe that Jesus died and was buried. But on the third day he rose from the dead.

Because Jesus walked this earth and faced the same temptations we do, he understands us. If you’re lonely, Jesus understands. If you feel that life is unfair, he understands that, too. Call out to him and he will answer. He already did all that hard work on the cross just for you.

Are you one of the “Whoevers?” You can be. Just believe the words of John 3:16. Say “Yes” to the Lord. Don’t perish. Be assured of eternal life with the Lord of all creation.

Kathy Yoder is a devotional writer. She may be reached at kathyyoder4@gmail.com.

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