Updated: Mar 4
What would you say the most famous verse in the bible is? Perhaps it varies from person to person, faith to faith, but in my experience John 3:16 is the one. There’s even a Country song about it called, “John Cougar, John Deere, and John 3:16”!
I’ve got the verse memorized, as I’m sure many of you do as well.
For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in him shall not perish but have everlasting life. (John 3:16)
There it is folks. In the King James–cause that’s the translation I grew up with. The only verse that matters. We can close up the Bible and go home. Believe in Jesus and everlasting life is yours. Full stop. Period. End of story.
But after John 3:16, does anyone ever recall what the next verse says? John 3:17?
"Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. (John 3:17)
There are so many things we could focus on here. The lack of a desire to condemn, the concept of salvation. But I always gravitate towards "The World". It's mentioned 4 times in 2 verses!
In Greek the word is Kosmos: a harmonious arrangement of order, the decoration and adornment of the stars and the heavens, the universe, our world, our circle of earth and all its inhabitants. The ungodly multitude. Everyone alienated from God and hostile to the cause of Christ.
Well ... John 3:17 sure does pull its own weight!
Yes, the verse before it is amazing, tucked as a precious jewel in the hearts of Christians everywhere. God so loved the world that he gave us Jesus, and if we believe, eternal life is ours. So beautiful. So personal–and so important! But we must remember that God’s view is vast. God's view knows no bounds. And God sent the son not to condemn the entirety of the Kosmos, but to save it. All of it. All of us.
So let's tack on this added verse to John 3:16. So people know that in a world of brokenness and pain, the collective “we” are rescued, valued, forgiven. Loved. The work is done. No matter who we are, what we’ve accomplished, where we’re going, what we believe; there's not a national origin, race, color, sex, religion, or age that can, or ever will, separate us from the Love of God.