John 3:16 is arguably the most popular text in Christendom. Virtually everyone in church knows it. We hear it mentioned in songs, see it on the bottoms on Forever 21 bags (yes, the owners of Forever 21 are Christians!), and of course under Tim Tebow’s eyes. There isn’t a argument that John 3:16 gets a lot of exposure. However, I wonder if sometimes the most important word in the verse is overlooked because so much emphasis is placed (rightly) on Jesus being God’s one and only Son. The word I’m referring to is “gave.”
John 3:16 doesn’t have any thrust without the word gave. If God didn’t give, then nothing else would matter. If God didn’t give, then we wouldn’t know the Person of Jesus. But the fact is, He did give–because God is a giver. He’s self-sufficient and doesn’t have any need. From His place of sufficiency, God gave. And His gift was sacrificial, ending in death. And His gift was costly, as all giving is. And, as John 3:16 teaches us (“God so loved…”), His gift was motivated by love, not any recipient’s merit.
Remember this Christmas that it is more blessed to give than to receive (Acts 20:35). God modeled it. Jesus modeled it. We’re called to live out the example.