I want to take a few moments to focus on one of the most well known (and singularly most important) verses in the Bible John 3:16.
In the King James:
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
In the NIV:
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
In the Message:
This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life.
What Words! For me, and I daresay for most of us, John 3:16 was the very first scripture I ever memorized. I've known those words by heart for what feels like forever, but because of that familiarity, it also makes those words easy to just ramble off or gloss over.
But in those 25 or so words lies they key to....everything. Those words ARE Gospel (Good News!). Allow me a little bit of room here:
Because God loved you, and me, and everyone else here on earth so very much, He gave his son. He gave not one of our sons, not a goat, not a God created sacrifice, but His one and only Son (God himself) to be brutally executed in our spot. You were supposed to die for the crimes you committed ('wages of sin is death') and in order to save you, God, with his hands tied, let His own son be killed in your place to save you. God did this, allowed this to happen, so that you, His true love, could have the chance to spend eternity with Him in Heaven.
That's the message of John 3:16. Focus on that message today, truly attempt to feel the gravity of that decision He made on your behalf - and the fact that God made that decision before we were interested, before we knew him, before we cared, while we still mocked and even hated Him, God had his son executed to save us.
Would you let your child be killed in order to save someone else (ANYONE else, your family, your friend, the president, your preacher)? I wouldn't. Not for anyone. And even if I could somehow make that decision initially, that Emily could die to save someone else, once the process started, if I was watching it unfold and I could stop it, there is NO way I would ever let that go! (God could have stopped it and didn't!). But there we're talking about letting our child die for someone we dearly loved, admired, and respected. But imagine for a second the prospect of letting your child die for a group of people who don't even know you, like you, or care about you, and a group of people who make fun of and hate your child - would you let your one and only child die for those people? There is no way, not one of us - but God did. God (and Jesus WILLINGLY) made that sacrifice for us (THIS is Love: that while we were still sinners, Christ chose to die for us).