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“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. John 3:16

It’s a verse many of us learned in Sunday School, and perhaps the most well-known verse in the Bible. ‘For God so loved the world.’ What an awesome promise. What an incredible thought. Not a god, THE God. The creator and sustainer of the universe loves us. Make it more personal. He loves me. Insignificant as I am, a stubborn, selfish, weak-willed person. Yet He looks down from heaven and smiles when He sees me.

Fantastic as that truth is, so often we focus our attention on the first part of the verse and relatively little time really thinking about the next part of the verse. ‘He gave his one and only son’. If you are a parent, ask yourself, “If I knew my only child was going to be killed, what would I do to protect him/her? How much money would I spend to keep my child protected? What would I sacrifice to make sure I could enjoy my child’s presence?

It might be easy to say, “Yeah, but He’s God. Sure, He knew Jesus would die, but He also knew Jesus would rise again.” But remember that we are made in God’s image. Our emotional make-up and intellect comes from Him.

A friend of mine (I’ll call John) recently lost his infant son to a rare disease. The disease struck in the morning and took the little ones life before sundown! It was incredibly hard for the family and all those close to John. I hadn’t seen John in several months since the funeral of his one-year-old little boy. As we sat over coffee, John told me how the morning of his son’s death he’d been spoken to regarding sacrifice. “It was as if God was saying to me, ‘will you give me everything?”

John remembers thinking, I can give you everything except I have to admit I’m not sure I’d give you my son. That day God took his son from him. John learned a valuable lesson about what it must have been like for his Heavenly Father when he was separated from His only son.

When Jesus was on earth it was as though He was imprisoned in a foreign land. While His Father could see Him, the relationship was different. When Jesus was dying on the cross, even His Father turned His face from His one and only Son. That’s why, with agony Jesus screamed, “My God, My God, Why have you forsaken me?”

John 3:16 doesn’t just tell us that God loves us. It shows us that God understands what sacrifice means. When we are asked to give everything to God, it’s not an idle statement by a God that hasn’t sacrificed. He loved me so much that He literally gave the only thing He could possibly give, His only Son.

The next time you think the pain of the journey is too great; remember that Jesus endured pain beyond imagination so He could comfort you. When you wonder if you can go on, remember that Jesus’ agony was so great that He sweat great drops of blood. During those times you feel all alone, remember Jesus knew what it was like to have all of his family, and friends reject Him. Even His heavenly Father turned his back on him.

PRAYER: Dear Jesus, I thank you that you understand my deepest pain. Thank you that in my loneliness you are desperate to be my friend. Thank you for the promise that Your love is eternal and unconditional. I’ve made many mistakes. I struggle with trying to do the right thing. Empower me by your Spirit to learn to live the life of sacrifice for your sake. Amen.

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