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I have long been fascinated with the most well-known verse in the Bible: John 3:16.
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.
Could a single sentence contain more significance? Consider the weight of its words: “God . . . loved . . . world . . . perish . . . eternal life.”
Each phrase deserves a deep dive. Each term warrants its own conversation. Each word merits its own chapter.
Hence, the book 3:16.
When it released in 2007, we had no idea it would be so well received. It’s been read by all ages, translated into twenty-five languages and used in countless settings. Numerous bookstore chains, church denominations, and entire congregations spent focused time examining this life-giving promise. Prisons. Small groups. Personal studies.
Stories came from readers around the world who found faith in this “twenty-six-word parade of hope,” whose words have been framed, T-shirted, tattooed, monogrammed, and bannered.
Every time I recall these words, they are as fresh and as stunning as my first encounter with them. The mind-bending awareness of God’s limitless love, his incalculable sacrifice, and the priceless teaching at the core. How can we not review it again and again? I want this generation, and all who come after, to look closely at the key promise of God and choose the gift beyond all gifts.
John 3:16 invites us to get to the root of the human story. We tend to do the opposite. We focus on the fruit. Am I well-employed, well-paid, well-built, or well-received by people in my world? Valid questions, for sure, but John 3:16 bids us to go deeper.
Who is God?
Why does his love matter?
Do I matter?
What is meant by “perish”?
Eternal life? Is it available to me?
John 3:16 takes us upriver to the headwaters of human existence. Once we find our source of life, it’s easier to stay on course.
I invite you to turn the page and engage with these wonderful words of Jesus. Though spoken more than two thousand years ago, they are as relevant as this morning’s headlines.
He loved. He gave.
We believe. We live.
It’s that simple. It’s that vital.
Shall we get started?
~ Max Lucado
If you know nothing of the Bible, this is the place to start. If you know everything in the Bible, this is the place to return.
Max Lucado, 3:16 The Numbers of Hope
"John 3:16 is one of the most powerful verses in Scripture. I can’t think of another verse that the gospel hinges on so clearly as John 3:16. Over the years, this verse was displayed behind my father’s platform at all his Crusades. Max Lucado’s 3:16: The Numbers of Hope is refreshing and insightful. May the powerful Gospel message of this verse bring hope to all who read."
"My friend Max Lucado has done it again! He’s taken the most beloved passage of Scripture, unwrapped its deepest truths revealing the greatest expression of God’s love. 3:16’s message of hope will show you how much you matter to God. This is a must-read for anyone."
"At the heart of our worship is the message of John 3:16. The story still inspires—out of God’s great love was born great sacrifice. In 3:16, Max makes new and fresh one of the oldest and deepest truths of our faith. I cannot help but sing and shout and dance from a grateful and humble heart when I think of what God has done for me and all of humanity. How great is our God!"
"Max Lucado brings words, and now numbers, to new life. The truth in 3:16 is life changing, and nobody makes it more relevant for today and compelling for the future than our friend Max."
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