Andrew Fountain - God's Love for Humanity

  • John 3:16 is probably the best known verse in the Bible, but it has a hidden depth and richness that makes it (and the rest of the passage) well worth studying.


Sermon Outline - God’s Love for Humanity


  • To fully grasp the depth and richness of John 3:16

The story so far…

God’s Love for Humanity

  1. The flow of the passage
  2. Focus in on 16–21
  3. How this speaks into our lives

John 3:16–38

  1. For this how much God loved the world: he gave the Son, the One and Only,
    • so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.
  2. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world,
    • but that the world should be saved through him.
  3. The one who believes in him is not condemned.
    The one who does not believe has been condemned already,
    • because they have not believed in the name of the One and Only Son of God.
  4. Now this how judging works:
    • that the light has come into the world
    • and people loved the darkness rather than the light,
      • because their deeds were evil.
  5. For everyone who does evil deeds hates the light and does not come to the light,
    • so that their deeds will not be exposed.
  6. But the one who practices the truth comes to the light,
    • so that it may be plainly evident that their deeds have been done in God.
  1. After this, Jesus and his disciples came into the Judean countryside,
      and there he spent time with them and was baptizing.
  2. John was also baptizing at Aenon near Salim, because water was plentiful there, and people were coming to him and being baptized.
  3. (For John had not yet been thrown into prison.)
  4. Now a dispute came about between some of John’s disciples and a certain Jew concerning ceremonial washing.
  5. So they came to John and said to him,
    “Rabbi, the one who was with you on the other side of the Jordan River, about whom you testified — see, he is baptizing, and everyone is flocking to him!”
  6. John replied,
    “No one can receive anything unless it has been given to them from heaven.
  7. You yourselves can testify that I said,
    • ‘I am not the Messiah,’ but rather, ‘I have been sent before him.’
  8. The one who has the bride is the bridegroom.
    • The friend of the bridegroom, who stands by and listens for him,
      • rejoices greatly when he hears the bridegroom’s voice.
    • This then is my joy, and it is complete.
  9. He must become more important while I become less important.”
  1. The one who comes from above is superior to all.
    • The one who is from the earth belongs to the earth and speaks about earthly things.
    The one who comes from heaven is superior to all.
  2. He testifies about what he has seen and heard, but no one accepts his testimony.
  3. The one who has accepted his testimony has confirmed clearly that God is truthful.
  4. For the one whom God has sent speaks the words of God,
    • for he gives him the Spirit without measure.
  5. The Father loves the Son and has placed all things under his authority.
  6. The one who believes in the Son has eternal life.
    The one who does not trust the Son will not see life,
    • but God’s wrath remains on them.



  • Three panels: teaching, story, and then back to teaching
  1. —18. Come back to this shortly
    • These three verses hang together
    • The word “condemn” appears 3 times
    • This is going to be unpacked now:
  2. —21. “Now this is how judging/condemning works
  3. —30 Now we come to the story part
    • Woven into the tapestry of the 1st 18 verses of John (prologue)

John 1

  1. There was a man sent from God, whose name was John.
  2. He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light,
    that all might believe through him.
  3. He was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light.
  4. John bore witness about him, and cried out,
    “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks before me, because he was before me.’”
  1. —26. The story starts in an odd way:
    • We are not told who it was, or what it was about, but just “ceremonial washing”
    • Remember the water turned into wine? The water pots originally were for “ceremonial washing” —exactly the same word
      • This is the Jesus who upset the ceremonies in the Temple, and said his body would replace the temple
    • I think there is a growing sense of disturbance at what Jesus is saying
    • But here is the problem: “everyone is flocking to him”
    • We can accept you John, because although you are challenging our sin, you are not turning the world upside down
      • John was the last of the O.T. prophets
  2. —30. The friend of the bridegroom
    • These are beautiful words. The last words of John the Baptist recorded in John’s gospel
    • I think the whole point of them is the context: John the B. is the old order, the Old covenant
      • And rather than clinging to the old, they should see it as a friend of the bridegroom
      • The whole purpose of Moses was to point to Jesus
      • The whole purpose of sacrificing lambs was to point to the true sacrifice
      • The whold of the Old Testament is the “friend of the bridegroom”
    • Don’t cling to the old “ceremonial washing” when you have the new
    • Yesterday I was at an event that was in a building used by an Anglican church
      • There were pictures of their ceremonies, all the priests dressed up for elaborate rituals
      • They probably love Jesus, but we are in an age where reality has replaced the ritual
      • We are only given two very simple symbols by Jesus: breaking bread, and baptism
        • That is because the bridegroom has come, and we can enjoy him directly.
      • We, God’s people, are the bride of Jesus
      • The wedding will be at his return, but we can already get to know the bridegroom
  3. —33 back to teaching
    • I don’t think it is John the Baptist speaking here because we are back to using John’s wording, which
    • Jesus’ authority to clear away the old law (the earthly things) and replace them with himself
  4. —35. One of the Jewish writings from the time, that we have discovered, talks about God measuring out the Spirit to the prophets
    • They were all given a limited measure.
  5. Neatly rounds off the section.
    • Perfectly matches v.16–18
    • As we have seen, John is usually very intentional about marking the start and end of his stories
    • So that’s why I had to take a larger chunk today.

2. Focus in on 16–21

  1. It gives Jesus name as a very empatic title: The son, The One and only.
    • Unique person. Abraham had two sons, Isaac & Ishmael. This word is used of Isaac because he was the special, unique, irreplacable carrier of the promises God made to Abraham.
    • We are God’s son’s and daughters, but not like Jesus
    • It does not mean Jesus was “born”, it is a metaphor, a picture to help us understand the relationship
    • World is better translated “humanity” because it does not mean the physical world, but all human beings.
  • But what is this about “condemned already” in v.18
    • Doesn’t that sound a bit rough?
    • Here is the most importand thing to get to understand these 6 verses
  • The world is already hopelessly broken and heading for destruction



Image source: Willy Stöwer

  • God’s love is in the context of this desperate situation
    • Read v.16–19 again in that light
  1. This is how much!
    • “so loved” does not quite capture the force of the origial Greek
    • This is the measure of the extent of God’s love —that hie gave his Son, his One and only unique Son
    • I am so moved by this. This is the main point of the verse—the incredible extent of God’s love
      • How can we explain it?
      • I am so moved!

God’s Love for Humanity

  1. The flow of the passage
  2. Focus in on 16–21
    1. “condemned already”??
    2. “…this is how much…”
  3. How this speaks into our lives

3. How this speaks into our lives

  1. God’s heart for you is love
    • —he does not want to condemn you!
    • —how will you respond?
  2. The one who practices the truth comes to the light
    • —how will you respond?
  1. Imagine you are clinging to the Titanic as it is going down
    • and a big rowing boat appears, with a man shouting “let go of that and trust us or you will die”
    • You don’t day “that’s not a nice man—very bossy and condemning” —he has risked his life!
    • The warnings in these verses are not to put you down, but to describe reality!
  2. If you’re a follower of Jesus
    20–21 —note it is not balanced—the good is done by God. The point is not being good, but choice to be washed
    • I was praying to Jesus about this passage and asking what he had for me personally in them
    • I felt drawn to v.20–21
    • I had the impression of Jesus saying “Andrew, would you let me shine my light into you right now?”
      • I agreed, and became aware of a couple of things that were not very nice inside
    • I decided to label them as wrong, and ban them.
      • It was a surprising and interesting process.
    • I am going to challenge all of us to do that right now

Updated on 2019-10-20 by Andrew Fountain