God’s Extravagant Love, Sending Jesus to Die For You (John 3:16)

God’s Extravagant Love, Sending Jesus to Die For You (John 3:16)

Prepared and preached by Pastor Steve Rhodes for and at Bethel Friends Church in Poland, OH on Sunday, April 16, 2023

David Jeremiah shares:

Many years ago, in the little English village of Brackenthwaite, there lived a quiet and lonely man named William Dixon. His wife had died years before, and later he had lost his only son. Dixon often could be seen sitting by his window, watching the world go by and smiling at the happy families on the streets.

One day he looked out and saw a neighbor’s home on fire. Other neighbors were already gathering, scrambling for water and shouting for help. Dixon ran out and joined them just as an elderly woman was pulled from the flames.

“Who else is inside?” someone shouted above the commotion.

“My little grandson!” she gasped through smoke-filled lungs. “Upstairs—trapped!”

The people groaned, knowing the stairway was impassable. But William Dixon hurried to the front of the house and found an iron drainage pipe running up the wall. Taking hold of it, he pulled himself upward to the window and found the terrified boy. He scooped up the child and scrambled back to the ground.

A few days later, the grandmother succumbed to her injuries, leaving the little boy an orphan with no home, no guardian. The village held a hearing to determine his fate.

When the meeting was called to order, two volunteers came forward. One good citizen answered the standard questions, giving every assurance that he would provide a good home. The second volunteer was William Dixon, the rescuer. He said few words, but his hands spoke for him. They were bandaged. The hot iron pipe he’d been forced to climb had burned them severely.

When it came to a vote, the man with the scarred hands went home with the orphan, a father once more. His love, everyone agreed, was written on his hands.1

The love of our Lord was also written on His hands—the two hands stretched out and nailed to the cross, where they flowed with the blood that indelibly wrote His love for us for all eternity.[1]

We have been talking about God’s love.

Today, my theme is: God’s Extravagant Love, Sending Jesus to Die For You (John 3:16)

John 3:16–18 (ESV)

16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.

  1. Background to John 3:16
    1. David Jeremiah shares: You might think that since the message of John 3:16 is for the entire world, it would have been delivered to a large assembly, maybe in Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount or in some of His discourses in the temple. Instead, it was spoken privately to a single person.4 Nicodemus was a leading member of the ruling Jewish council, the Sanhedrin. Jesus had aroused the anger and opposition of these Jewish leaders because of His claims to be the Son of God and what they saw as His disregard for some of their laws.
    2. But Nicodemus was not so sure. He had seen the miracles of Jesus, and he could not write Him off as easily as his peers. We must remember that Nicodemus, like all Jews, saw himself as one of God’s chosen people in a highly exclusive sense. They belonged to God by virtue of their birth into His favored race. Their coming Messiah would destroy all Gentiles—especially the hated Romans who occupied Israel. Could Jesus be the man? Nicodemus wanted to find out.[2]
    3. The rest of this sermon I have broken down based on an acrostic that spells “Gospel” and we see this in John 3:16.
  2. God…
    1. This is about God.
    2. God loved the world.
    3. To most cultures in the past they did not think of a loving God.
    4. They were always trying to appease the gods. This is about God.
    5. Salvation always begins with God.
    6. God is holy and our sins are treason against God almighty (Romans 3:23; 6:23).
    7. But God loves.
    8. We have been talking about God’s great love.
    9. One Bible scholar points out: The Greek construction puts some emphasis on the actuality of the gift: it is not ‘God loved enough to give,’ but ‘God loved so that he gave.
    10. The same scholar continues The construction of the Greek sentence stresses the intensity of God’s love. He gave His best, His unique and loved Son. The Jews believed that God loved the children of Israel, but John affirmed that God loved all people regardless of race.[3]
    11. God loved and he loved everyone.
    12. No one is left out.
    13. God so loved the world, it is the Greek word: kósmos which means the inhabitants of the earth.
    14. God so loved the world that He gave. How are we with giving? Are we giving people? I like how Swindoll pointed out that we are never more like God than when we give.
  • Only
    1. God gave his only “begotten” Son, or His “one and only Son” or His “unique” Son. Several years ago, I started researching the Greek of this passage. I was required to study Greek in seminary but I am not that good with it so I contacted two Greek scholars to look into that specific word. The Jehovah’s Witness like the word “Begotten” best because it literally means that Jesus was born. It literally means, “only born.”
    2. But Jesus was never born we know that. One Greek scholar, Dr. Long from Asbury Theological Seminary believes “unique” is the best translation of the adjective. The Greek adjective from which we get “begotten” is monogenḗs and literally means “one and only” or “only born.” This is a case where tracing a words derivation is not helpful because as I stated Jesus was never born. This adjective was also applied to Isaac that Isaac was the only monogenḗs of Abraham. Of course, Isaac was born and Abraham did have another son. Yet, Isaac was the child of promise.
    3. So, as we consider which term is best to translate the Greek remember that the Greek adjective monogenḗs literally does mean only born.
    4. However, also remember we do not form Theology based on one verse. We form Theology, in this case, Christology, based on the whole Bible. Look at John 1:1-14 and we see that Jesus was not born.
    5. God so loved the world that He gave His only “begotten” (sticking with the NASB) Son…The rest of the passage picks up the purpose: that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.
    6. Salvation is opened to all people but only through Jesus. Look at John 3:18.
  • Son
    1. John 3:18 says: He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
    2. We have to believe in Jesus.
    3. Salvation is opened to anyone through Jesus.
    4. Salvation is exclusive in that it is through Jesus, BUT Christianity is inclusive. Christianity is opened to anyone.
    5. Everyone is eligible for the free gift of salvation in Jesus.
    6. Rejecting Jesus is rejecting God the Father.
    7. Let’s look at John 14:6: Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.
    8. We see this idea all throughout the New Testament, actually all throughout the Bible. We need a way to take care of our sins and it is only through Jesus.
  • Perish
    1. David Jeremiah shares: I remember reading of the apocryphal engraving for Les Moore of Tombstone, Arizona (an appropriate place to have an epitaph, I would think). Apparently his departure was not overly mourned, for his epitaph reads,
    2. Here Lies Les Moore
    3. No Les, No More
    4. The humor rings true, but the theology falls flat. Somewhere, more or less, Les Moore abides.[5]
    5. We will perish without Jesus to take away our sins.
    6. We could not pay for our own sins because we have sinned.
    7. Jesus knew no sin and became sin for us.
    8. 2 Corinthians 5:21 (ESV)
    9. 21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
  • Everlasting
  • Life
    1. We have life now and for eternity if we receive Jesus.
    2. John 10:10 (ESV)
    3. 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.
    4. Will we believe? J. C. Ryle puts it succinctly: “Salvation… does not turn on the point, ‘Did Christ die for me?’ but on the point, ‘do I believe on Christ?’ ”10[6]

The great playwright Arthur Miller was married to Marilyn Monroe during the 1950s. In his autobiography, he describes the misery of watching the troubled actress descend into the lowest regions of depression and despair. It seemed there was no way he or anyone else could make her happy. He knew that her very life was on the line—that this could go only so far before she succumbed to her various demons—loneliness, paranoia, addiction to barbiturates.

One evening there was yet another visit from the doctor, who talked Marilyn into taking a sedative that put her to sleep. Miller was pensive as he stood and watched his wife. “I found myself straining to imagine miracles,” he writes. “What if she were to wake and I were able to say, ‘God loves you, darling,’ and she were able to believe it! How I wished I still had my religion and she hers.13[7]

In 1912 the Titanic, the largest, most luxurious, and most advanced ship of its time, sank on its maiden voyage, taking the lives of 1,514 passengers. Though the disaster occurred one hundred years ago, several movies, documentaries, and books have kept the horror of that night alive in our minds. We’ve all heard of passengers such as “the unsinkable” Molly Brown and the entrepreneur John Jacob Astor IV. But one of the most astounding stories from the Titanic has received little press.

It’s the story of Pastor John Harper, a widower who was traveling with his six-year-old daughter at the invitation of the great Moody Church in Chicago. Not only was he to preach there, he intended to accept the church’s offer to become their next pastor. His hopes were high, and it seemed he had a brilliant future ahead.

After the ship hit the iceberg and it became apparent that it would sink, Harper got his daughter safely aboard a lifeboat. It’s likely he could have joined her, being her only parent, but he chose to stay aboard the sinking ship because he knew that with this disaster, God had given him an urgent mission.

Harper immediately began to go from one person to another, telling them about Christ’s love and urging them to accept Him. He shouted for Christians to let the unsaved fill the lifeboats so they would live to come to belief. When one angry man rejected the message, Harper removed his own life vest and gave it to him, saying, “You need this more than I do.”

Harper was still actively pressing his urgent evangelism when the ship tipped upward, wrenched in half, and slipped beneath the frigid North Sea. Even then Harper did not stop. Seeing the many passengers struggling in the water with little chance of rescue, he swam to as many as he could, urging them to accept God’s loving offer until hypothermia finally overcame him.

Four years later, at a Titanic survivors meeting in Ontario, one survivor told the story of his own encounter with John Harper. He was clinging to a piece of flotsam when Harper swam to him and urged him to “believe on the Lord Jesus Christ.” The man rejected the offer and Harper swam away. But soon Harper came around again, and this time, knowing death to be only minutes away, the man gave his life to Christ. Moments afterward, he watched the near-freezing water finally take Harper’s life just as a returning lifeboat approached to rescue him. At the conclusion of his story, he said simply, “I am the last convert of John Harper.”

The Titanic left England with three classes of passengers aboard. But when accounting for their fate, the White Star Line set up a board listing only two classes: KNOWN TO BE SAVED and KNOWN TO BE LOST. These categories provided a fitting analogy for what John Harper already knew. There are only two classes of people in this world: those who have chosen to accept Christ and will spend eternity with God in heaven, and those who have not chosen Him and will not.14

Which class are you in?[8]


Luke 9:23

Do you know Jesus?

God created us to be with Him. (Genesis 1-2)

Our sin separated us from God. (Genesis 3)

Sins cannot be removed by good deeds (Gen 4-Mal 4)

Paying the price for sin, Jesus died and rose again. (Matthew – Luke)

Everyone who trusts in Him alone has eternal life. (John – Jude)

Life that’s eternal means we will be with Jesus forever. (Revelation 22:5)


1 Paul Lee Tan, Encyclopedia of 7700 Illustrations: Signs of the Times (Garland, TX: Bible Communications, 1996).

[1] David Jeremiah, God Loves You: He Always Has–He Always Will (New York City, NY: FaithWords, 2012).

4 Scholars debate whether John 3:16–21 is a direct quote from Jesus or a reflection from the pen of John, summarizing Jesus’ words. In either case, it is clear that the teaching came from the lips of Jesus.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Tom Constable, Tom Constable’s Expository Notes on the Bible (Galaxie Software, 2003), Jn 3:16–18.

8 James Montgomery Boice, The Gospel of John (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2005), 287.

[4] David Jeremiah, God Loves You: He Always Has–He Always Will (New York City, NY: FaithWords, 2012).

[5] David Jeremiah, God Loves You: He Always Has–He Always Will (New York City, NY: FaithWords, 2012).

10 Ryle, Gospel of John, 160.

[6] David Jeremiah, God Loves You: He Always Has–He Always Will (New York City, NY: FaithWords, 2012).

13 Arthur Miller, Timebends (New York: Penguin, 1987), 482.

[7] David Jeremiah, God Loves You: He Always Has–He Always Will (New York City, NY: FaithWords, 2012).

14 Adapted from Douglas W. Mize, “As Titanic Sank, He Pleaded, ‘Believe in the Lord Jesus!’ ” Baptist Press, April 13, 2012, accessed April 25, 2012, http://www.bpnews.net/printerfriendly.asp?ID=37601.

[8] David Jeremiah, God Loves You: He Always Has–He Always Will (New York City, NY: FaithWords, 2012).

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