For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish…
What subject can be so interesting as this? The gospel in general is a record of the love of God, but there the only begotten Son from the bosom of the Father gives us an epitome of the whole.
I. ITS OBJECT. If God so loved the world, then —
1. He loved those who deserved no such love.
2. He loved those who could do nothing to purchase or to procure it.
3. He loved those by whom it was unsolicited and undesired.
4. He must manifest it in a way worthy of Himself.
(1) Was such a love verbal? There is a great deal of such which says, "Be ye warmed," etc. Was it sentimental? There are a good many so exquisite in their sensibilities as not to be able to endure a case of woe. Had God's love been such we had never been redeemed.
(2) God's love was practical, bountiful, efficient.
II. ITS MANNER. He loved in a way worthy of Himself, and bestowed a gift which proved its greatness.
1. The supreme dignity and worth of the gift — "His Son" in a sense in which no other being is. Angels are sons because God has created them; Christians because God has adopted them. But Christ is God's Son by eternal generation; Son in such a sense that He can say of the Father, "I and My Father are one," and that the Father can say of Him, "Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever."
2. The relation in which the gift stood to the Giver. He was one in whom the Father delighted, not as in a creature with a limited affection, but with a boundless complacency.
3. Does not this teach us that a less valuable gift could not expiate human crime, and that no other price could have been accepted. Had Christ's teaching, example, etc., been sufficient His blood would not have been shed. But "without shedding of blood is no remission."
4. The only begotten Son so loved the world that He gave Himself. The allegation that if Christ suffered under compulsion it were unjust is true. But Christ was Divine, and therefore independent, and consequently cannot be compelled to suffer. Hence He says, "I delight to do Thy will." "No man taketh My life from Me."
III. ITS END. It was glorious and justified the means — the salvation of the world. But this great benefit is not dispensed indiscriminately. There must be a cordial acceptance of God's plan. Two ideas:
1. That of credence. Jesus must be believed to be what the record declares Him to be.
2. But such credence of this testimony that it is accepted by us, and that there is a personal reliance on Christ for salvation. It is with the heart man believeth unto righteousness.
3. Nor is this one act merely; it is an act repeated till a habit is formed, a habit which gives a distinctive denomination to the person — "believer."
4. This salvation through faith is negative and positive.In conclusion:
1. "God so loved the world." Then
(1) He has so loved mankind as He has not loved other orders of creatures.
(2) He has carried this attribute m this manifestation to its utmost intensity. This cannot be said of His wisdom or His power.
(3) It was so vast, amazing, rich as to pay down a price that defies all the powers of human or angelic calculation.
2. Has God so loved the world as to give, etc.? Then —
(1) Let us cherish views of the Divine character worthy of Him whose we are and whom we serve.
(2) How vital to salvation is faith!
(3) Have we the love of God?
(4) We ought to love one another.
(R. Newton, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.