For God so loved the cosmos as to give the Son, the only one, so that everyone having faith in him might not perish, but have the life of the Age. - John 3:16 (literal translation from Greek)
John 3:16 is probably one of the most famous and well-used verses in the entire New Testament--which is why so many of us miss the intricacies of its message. We've grown too used to it.
Which is why I used a literal translation instead of one that might be a bit more familiar.
Read it again with new eyes.
Those first few words---For God so loved the cosmos We usually translate that into "world," but isn't cosmos a whole lot bigger?
And what about the words so loved? God so loved the cosmos--the universe--all of Creation. When you think of it in those terms doesn't it expand your view of this God--the kind of God who still loves, still dotes on what God has created?
But it's the next words that truly set the stage for all that comes in the second half of the verse. For God so loved the cosmos as to give...
God's unbelievable, never-ending, intimate love for Creation (which includes you and me) results in generosity. And this isn't your every-day, run-of-the-mill generosity. This isn't the kind of meager generosity that you and I call generosity.
The kind of generosity that flows from the loving heart of God is the kind that offers the greatest gift that could possibly be given. The gift of the Son, the only one.
And by only one--the Gospel writer who penned these words (known in scholarly circles as "The Evangelist") is saying:
"This incredible gift that was given by God--the gift of the Son--is the only gift that offers the universe (and you and me) the true source of light through whom all of Creation (and us) can experience life to it's fullest both on this side of eternity and the next."
How amazing is the message of this verse--this all-too-familiar verse that contains the entire story of how God is saving not just the world, but all of Creation? And isn't that the greatest kind of hope imaginable?
That's a story worth sharing.
That's the real message of Christianity. That God so loved and that God gave. And that we have the opportunity to embrace this great gift and all that comes with it.
May this be the story of your life.
And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.