26 Powerful Words

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

I was introduced to this verse as a youngster. If memory serves, it was during a Sunday afternoon football game. Every time one team kicked a field goal or extra point, some guy wearing a rainbow wig would hold up the sign in the stands. The cameraman couldn’t avoid him, and neither could a 9-year-old boy watching from his home in the Philly suburbs.

“What does that sign mean,” I asked. “Is that someone’s statistics from the game?”

“No, I think it’s some verse from the Bible.”

“Oh, okay.”

And that was essentially the extent of the conversation. It would take another 27 years or so for me to truly comprehend, appreciate, and, ultimately, embrace the meaning of John 3:16.

26 beautiful words. Much has been written about them. Max Lucado wrote an entire book on the verse, referring to it as “a twenty-six word parade of hope, beginning with God, ending with life, and urging us to do the same.”

As with any Bible verse, a helpful exercise is to meditate on each word. Read John 3:16 slowly, emphasizing a different word each time. Yes, it’s time-consuming, but isn’t that the point? When you enjoy a home-cooked meal (especially one that’s cooked for you), I bet you take your time, savoring every morsel, every crumb, every portion of the food. And why wouldn’t you? You’ve earned that homemade mac and cheese!

We may feel that we’ve earned that dinner, but we certainly didn’t earn eternal life. No, God presents that to us as a divine gift. The greatest act of love the world has ever known was offered in spite of our nature, not because of it. And all we need to do is believe. That’s it.

I pray that you can find someone who may not understand the nature of this verse. I pray that you have the courage to explain it to him or her. I pray that these 26 powerful words provide the start of something that lasts for eternity.

In His Name,


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