Why is it the greatest, most famous, and most used verse in the Bible? It contains the greatest message of the Bible. This short verse states a huge truth of Scripture. God sent His Son Jesus to die on a cross and resurrect three days later to be our substitute and payment for sin. It is the most widely known and the most frequently used Scripture for a reason. It is the most concise statement of Christianity. Some have called it “the gospel (good news) in a nutshell.”
What else is great about it? It shows us God’s great love for us. God loves us so much He gave us Jesus. 1 John 3:1 says, “Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed upon us that we should be called the sons of God.” How good is this love? “God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While were still sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8).” God doesn’t just say “I love you” He showed it. Everyone is a sinner. If we say we are not, we lie (1 John 1:8, 10). Romans 3:23 says all have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory. This sin will lead us all to death – eternal separation from God (Romans 6:23). But God isn’t a mean God out to get you. He didn’t send Jesus into the world to condemn the world but to save the world (John 3:17). God is patient with us, not wanting any of us to perish, but everyone to come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9). In Jesus there is no condemnation of sin (John 3:18; Romans 8:1) because He took care of our sin on the cross (2 Corinthians 5:21). If we are not in Christ (saved, born again, Christian) we are already condemned (John 3:18). You become saved when you surrender your life to Christ. Whoever calls on the name of the Lord will be saved (Romans 10:13). Confessing Jesus as Lord and believing God raised Him from the dead promises us salvation (Romans 10:9-10).
So why do people reject Jesus? A few verses after John 3:16 is John 3:19. “This is the verdict: Light has come into the world (Jesus) but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil.” John 3:16 isn’t just a title to a song, a great t-shirt idea, or cool saying to put on a poster board at a football game. It is not novelty but liberty. The message behind this famous reference is the key to eternal life. It is the method in how we experience God’s love and freedom from sin. We do not need to perish in an eternal place called Hell because God gave His Son Jesus so you and I can be saved. There is no other way to be saved but through a relationship with Jesus (Acts 4:12; John 14:6; Hebrews 2:9).