It is perhaps the best known verse in the New Testament, if not in the entire Bible. It is the most commonly memorized, the one most frequently on signs at football games. It is John 3:16. And it should be that way, for there despite its milky appearance, this verse is loaded with meaning and significance. So lets take it apart and see what we can find in there.

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. (John 3:16 NKJV)

“For God so loved”
First and foremost, this verse is not telling us about a ourselves. This verse gives us a look at the character of God. God is the initiator in this relationship. He was not responding to mankind’s collective plea for help, for at the time we were not just ignorant of God, we were His enemies. Romans 5:8 says that “God demonstrates His love for us in this”. As the apostle John later writes in his first letter, “In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. (I John 4:10).

“…the world”
God did not pick out just a few elect persons to save. He did not come and make provision for the salvation of one man. No, Jesus was sent to “seek and save the lost”. To do that, a sacrifice was needed that was sufficient for everyone.

And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world. (I John 2:2)

“that He gave”
The God who is love personified, became a person to show us His love. Love does that. It gives. God wasn’t sitting up in heaven having feelings for us. He acted and demonstrated His love.

“His only begotten Son”
When infinite love gives, the gift is of infinite value. God did not create an angel and send him down to be our sacrifice. He is so in love with us that He gave that which is dearest of all to His heart — His Son. I have three sons, and I cannot imagine willingly sending one to be tortured and killed for my enemies. But the infinite love of God did just that.

“that whoever believes in Him”
While the gift is sufficiently valuable for all, it is only efficacious for those who accept it. It is just like when a doctor writes you a prescription so you can recover. You can leave the bottle on your nightstand for months and years, and it will do you no good whatsoever. You have to take it for it to work. In the same way, if we don’t believe in Him, we will not be saved. And thankfully the invitation is to “whoever” which is a group that includes each of us!

“should not perish but have everlasting life.”
We were all condemned to die. We were without God and dead in transgressions and sins. But Jesus came to give us life (John 10:10). We, who were His enemies, now will live with Him forever. The next verse, john3:17, says it this way.

For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. (John 3:17)

We were already condemned. His mission was to save us. God loves us and did everything to provide us a way back to Himself. And that is what the Lords Supper is about.

As we look at the unleavened bread and the fruit of the vine, we are reminded not only of His broken body and His blood that was shed for our redemption. We also recall the love that motivated such a sacrifice for ones as undeserving as us. Yes, it is love that causes grace, that saved a wretch like you, and you, and me!