John 3:16 "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life."
That is the first verse most of us memorized after coming to Christ. A verse we've heard gazillions of times about the sacrifice of Jesus for us.
But I read it two days ago and discovered, to my great surprise and wonderment, that the verse really isn't about Jesus all that much.
It's more about the Father.
I was stunned. I've read/heard sermons preached on this verse for 41 years and never has it occurred to me that that verse had anything to do with the Father.
I'd heard it so often I just didn't hear it anymore.
It pierced my heart and I immediately repented of the tiny role I gave the Father in all of this, putting Jesus alone at the center. Actually, they are in it together, but the role I had assigned to God in my mind was because He is so seldom mentioned. I mean, He is so often maligned as the "God of the Old Testament" - the one that kills whole cities and wipes out everyone in judgement. What we fail to consider is that those population were given hundreds of years to repent.
God is merciful and compassionate, but there is a line beyond which He will not go. That line is drawn clearly in the sand - and when you defiantly refuse to change, you will be punished. Why the women and the children, you say. They are included because of the deep need for revenge in those cultures. If the women and children were only enslaved, they would hate the people who took their homes and fathers/husbands/brothers away, and the moms would never let the kids forget it, instilling a rabid hatred of Israel in the little ones until they grow up deaf to all reason, raised on vitriolic hatred - as we see happening today in Israel. God wanted to spare His people the influences of their gods and the degradation and idolatry of their worship, which often included sex with the temple prostitutes as part of the whole thing.
We forget that He is also the God of "hesed", often translated as "lovingkindness" or "mercy" or "favor" It implies a great tenderness akin to the love of (of course!) a father.
It was the Father's great love for the world He had created that moved Him to give His most beloved and precious treasure - His only begotten Son, to save all of us whosoevers.
I was so overwhelmed with my neglect of His glory that I picked up the Touch Bible embedded with the Strong's Concordance ($0.99 from Amazon) and went thru the verse, word by word. I share the results here. When the definition is in quotes it is directly from Strongs. Not in quotes means I chose the definitions to share when there were 15 or 30 definitions. And the surmising done is my own. So I invite you to join me and learn another facet of the Father's amazing Personhood.
"For". It's such a small word but has a lot of meaning: Properly assigning a REASON (used in argument, explanation or intensification), because, indeed, no doubt, seeing then, therefore, verily, why.
"God" means the Godhead,Trinity, God the Father, the first person in the Trinity, Christ the second person in the trinity, and the Holy Spirit, the third person in the trinity, spoken of the only and true God...His counsels, interests, things due to Him.
I don't know about you, and I am deeply ashamed to admit this, but I don't think I have ever truly thought of the Father's counsels, interests, and things due to Him. What a spoiled self-centered child, who never even tries to think about the things her Papa is interested in, the things that bring Him joy, that He loves to do. Ever.
It was about this time that I broke down in tears and begged His forgiveness for being so blase' about His Person. Two words and I am undone before Him!
"So" another one of those dynamite tiny words: "in this way, on this fashion, in like manner."
"Loved": regarding people it means to welcome, to entertain, to be fond of, to love dearly. Regarding things, it means to be well pleased, to be contented at or with a thing.
"The world" - here I expected "cosmos" or some such thing. Nope. Nothing that impersonal. It means the base of orderly arrangement, by implication, its inhabitants, literally or figuratively, the inhabitants of the earth, men, the human family,
"That" - as follows, in so much, wherefore.
"He gave" - deliver up, suffer, yield, to give what is due, obligatory.
"His" - mine own.
"Only begotten" My only child.
"Son" - immediate kinship of male child.
"That" see above definition.
"whosoever" - individually, each, every, any, the whole, every person.
"Believed" - "to think to be true, to be persuaded of, to entrust, commit to, put your trust in".
"In Him" - referring in third person to that individual.
"should not" - a particle of qualified negation, once qualification has been met, expresses absolute denial, God forbid, never, no way.
"Perish" - destroy, die, lose, to put out of the way entirely, render useless.
"But" - nevertheless, nay, rather, yea, moreover.
"Have" - to hold fast, to own, to possess, to hold one's self to a thing and be closely joined to it, used of a marriage.
"Everlasting" - "perpetual, eternal, forever, without end, never ceases."
"Life" - the state of one who is possessed of vitality, or is animate, the absolute fullness of life, life real and genuine, active and vigorous, devoted to God, blessed, in the portion even in this world of those who put their trust in Christ, but after the resurrection to be consummated by new accessions (among them a more perfect body) and to last forever.
That's a lot for one small verse.
I had always thought it was amazing, but compared to this, I had no idea.
It is a testament to the Father's great love for His children, of His great love for Jesus. He tore His own heart out to make ours live forever.
Putting all of this together, we get :
Properly assigning a reason, the first Person of the Trinity, the only and true God,in this way dearly loved the inhabitants of earth, the human family: He delivered up and yielded His own, His only child, His Son, wherefore individually each and every person who puts his trust in Him qualifies to never die or be useless, moreover to own and possess perpetual never-ending vitality, the absolute fullness of life, life real and genuine, active and vigorous, devoted to God, blessed,and after the resurrection to be consummated by new accessions, a more perfect body and to last forever.
It made me wonder what else I had missed.
So I went thru the gospels to find out how many times the Father was mentioned that I also did not see.
Another shake-me-to-my-soul moment.
The gospel of Matthew mentions the Father 41 times (!!)
Mark 6 times, which is about what I expected for all four gospels.
Luke 14 times.
In the gospel of John, the beloved disciple, I expected him to focus on Jesus more, so didn't think the Father would be mentioned often.
John mentioned the Father 96 times.
I was struck by this view of salvation. The whole shebang is centered in the Father - He instigated it, planned it, and His Son agreed to it. Suddenly I was alert to how Jesus spoke of the Father, how He always said He did only what His Father did, how He learned obedience by what He suffered, how when the moment came, He pleaded for a change of plans - but set His face like flint to be obedient to His glorious and loving Father.
How hard it must have been for that Father to withdraw Himself from His only Son! To watch the pain, the indignity, the incredible suffering of His Son to the point where He had to turn away - my sin did that.
When Jesus said that everything had to happen as prophesied, but woe to the person thru which the evil had to come, it took on new meaning. I can't imagine facing an all-powerful God when you just betrayed/whipped/mocked/convicted/crucified His Son.
Looking thru the Word I saw time after time where Jesus refocused the teaching on the Father, the Father's love, the Father's desire to heal, to draw His creation back to Himself.
And then the final bombshell of my quiet time:
Matthew 10:20 speaking of the end times when we are not to try to figure out what to say in court:
"For it is not you that speaks, but the Spirit of your Father which speaks through you."
I never, ever saw that before.
The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of the Father.
It is the Father's Spirit that is our Comforter, that teaches us all things, that comes along side of us in our pain, that strengthens us and enables us to endure.
When I think of being chosen from the foundation of the world, I think of Jesus.
Matthew 25:34 actually says, "Then shall the King say unto them on His right hand, 'Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.'"
How could I have missed You, Father?
But I'm not alone. All thru the gospels Jesus over and over tells his disciples that He is doing the Father's will, working as His Father works, doing only what the Father does, being obedient to the Father. How exasperated Jesus must have been when Philip asks, that last teaching time, to see the Father and then he'd be satisfied! Jesus replies from John 14:8 onward:
"Have I been so long a time with you, and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He that has seen me has seen the Father - and how do you say, then, 'Show us the Father?'"
The obedience of Jesus really shines through as He repeatedly gives the glory and the instigation of His miracles to the Father. Always He seeks to give glory to His Father, to emphasize the Father's careful planning, revealed in the prophecies over hundreds of years. Always He tries to redirect people to His Father.
All of which I never saw before.
41 years of blindness.
Thank You, Papa.