June 6, 2020

John 3:16 and Me: Sacrifice and Example

Not all homework assignments are bad, even though some may feel that way. This semester, my Bible teacher gave us a writing assignment to create a devotional to share with our class. I had put it off for a bit and knew my deadline was approaching quickly. After telling myself the dread of writing would go away, I finally got started at 9:30 p.m. that night. I had just finished all my other work for the day and was now in the last stretch. I sat down at the kitchen table with the computer and got to work. I was tired and ready to be done with this assignment, but I knew what I wrote had to be meaningful. That day—the whole week actually—was spent going through the New Testament. We didn’t spend a ton of time on the book of John and John 3:16 specifically. So, that’s when I got inspired to share my point of view on John 3:16 and Jesus’ sacrifice. 

What if God’s sacrifice for our lives meant more than just the gift of forgiveness and promise of eternal life with Him? What if this act was also meant to be an example for us? While Jesus sacrificed Himself on the cross so that a sinful and hateful people could live with Him for eternity, you can only imagine the amount of faith He must have had in His heavenly Father. Here, the angry crowd was shouting at Him, saying they had every right to crucify the Savior, and He was doing something to save them.

When we really think about Jesus’ sacrifice, we shouldn’t think of it as a “Well, it doesn’t matter that I messed up, at least I can get forgiveness” moment. We should see it as an opportunity to right our wrongs. I believe God doesn’t want us to be apathetic about making mistakes. I believe He knew we would make them—a million times—and that’s exactly why He died for us. So that with His very own blood we could have an eternal, perfect life with our amazing Creator. Some people think of John 3:16  and say, “Oh yeah, God gave us His Son just so we would be forgiven.” But really that verse is all about love—God’s immeasurable love for the world and His beautiful creation. For God so loved the world that He gaveHis only Son so that we would not perish but have everlasting life with Him. God made quite the sacrifice that day. His very own Son, whom He loved so very much, died for us. And this all shows us how loving, merciful, and forgiving our God is. He would look for anyone of us if we strayed away from His loving arms because He personally cares about us all.

Think of it like this. In a flock of 100 sheep where 99 were safe, Jesus still went after just one.

Josh Vandenburgh will be an eighth grader at Ruth Murdoch Elementary School in Berrien Springs, Michigan, this fall. He enjoys sailing during the summer, and in the winter he waits for summer.