Who Do You Love?

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When I was young I would watch Monday Night Football with my dad. Every time there was a field goal or extra point kicked when the camera angle switched to behind the kicker a banner would appear in the middle of the goal posts. It said John 3:16. That’s it.
Billy Graham, the evangelist, made the verse so famous with his crusades and his appeals with the Gospel. At one point, it was the best known verse in the world.
Despite that, so many people really never look at what it says, or the verses after it to understand its context. It is even more powerful and profound when you see it fully. And the calling is even more stark.
So this morning, I wanted to look at the verse and the verses after it and ask you the same question Jesus is asking in the text. Who do you love?
(Read John 3:16-21)
To start off with, what does God love? He loves the people in the world He created. This is an immediate and stark difference to the way many people think about God. He is not often seen as loving. He is seen as angry. Indifferent. Unknowable. Punisher. Lot of negative words for a lot of people. But Jesus says He is far from those things. He loves people. All people. He made us and He loves us.
How much He loves us comes into view quickly. He “gave His only Son.” The word gave means to bestow or present. God sends His Son to the world as a gift. I think when those of you who have kiddos stop and think about that, it would require an immense amount of love to let one of your kids go as an ambassador to people who were rebelling against you. Yet that is what God did.
The Message of John 3. Conversation with Nicodemus (3:1–21)

If the depth of love is measured by the value of its gift, then God’s love could not be greater, for his love-gift is his most precious possession—his only, eternally beloved Son. He could not love more.

And what He asks in return is that they would believe in Him. To put there trust in Him. To accept that He is who He says He is and can do what He says He can do which is to rescue people from certain death and offer them life- real, full permanent life.
Now a lot of people stop there. That’s the extent of the truth that they know, but Jesus goes on. Yes that’s one of the things we often miss- this is Jesus talking about Himself. And He has more to say than just a single sentence.
First, Jesus wants to make it clear. His purpose is not to condemn but to save. This is so important in our day and time. We often see God presented as condemning. (And we will get to that as there are things God condemns) but that is not His goal. His goal is redemption, salvation, rescue. And that should be our goal. To see people saved- not to see them lost forever. And that was one of the emphases that made Billy Graham so powerful. He made the Gospel accessible. It was an ope invitation. We need to reclaim that calling. To see the Gospel as for all people- even people not like us.
Second, we need to grasp the urgency of the situation. Vs18 makes it clear that people start from a position of condemnation. They are not born into a relationship with Jesus. In fact, we all start with that situation. We are all separated from God by our sin. We need to make a choice, when confronted with the reality of who Jesus is and what He has done, to believe in Him (verse 16 says whosoever believes, not simply whosoever- a conscious choice is implied)
John 1–11 (2) A Discourse on Salvation (3:11–21)

The idea here then is not one of a possible projected condemnation for the unbeliever but the necessity of escaping an already existing condemnation

The Gospel according to John 6. Extended Comment I (3:16–21)

Already in need of a Saviour before God’s Son comes on his saving mission, this person compounds his or her guilt by not believing in the name of that Son. As with the arrogant critic who mocks a masterpiece, it is not the masterpiece that is condemned, but the critic

So what would keep someone from Jesus. v19-20 make this clear. It is all about what we love. To choose Jesus means falling out of love with sin. With the way we do things apart from Jesus. From a way of life that is ultimately focused on pleasing ourselves.
In verse 19, Jesus says “light” has come into the world. He is that light. And what is the purpose of that light, to illuminate our understanding of who God is and what He wants from us. In short, His whole purpose is to open our eyes to our current situation, His continual holiness, and our need for redemption from His judgment. And, above all, His willingness to do just that. But that requires a CHOICE!
The Gospel according to John 6. Extended Comment I (3:16–21)

Light has come into the world; with the incarnation of the Word, the light shone in the darkness (cf. notes on 1:4–5) even more brightly than at the creation. As the light of the world (8:12), Jesus is the revelation of God and the objectification of divine holiness and purity.

The real issue we all have is Jesus is calling us to a choice. Where will we spend our love? Where will we place our trust? And those who choose to love themselves and their sin, rather than Jesus are in the precarious position of choosing the wrong things and being condemned.
(Verse 21) But when we choose to follow Jesus, we walk out of that darkness and into the light. And what we do, as a result, is a testimony to the power of God working in and thru us.
The Gospel according to John 6. Extended Comment I (3:16–21)

while the lover of darkness shuns the light out of fear of exposure, shame and conviction, the lover of light does not prance forward to parade his wares with cocky self-righteousness, but comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God. This strange expression makes it clear that the lover of light is not some intrinsically superior person

That is the choice facing every person. Who will you love? And that love defines who you will work for. And that work is a testimony to what will ultimately happen to your soul.
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