Summary: The central message of John 3:16 can be compared to the donation of life giving organs. The donation requires a life, one life sacrificed can provide for several lives, there is no way to say thank-you for such a gift. John 3:16 is very similar.

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This morning, we look at the shortest possible description of the whole Gospel. John 3:16 is a marvelous passage beloved by so many. Luther referred to it as the Gospel, within the Gospel, or, the Gospel within a nutshell. And such it is. This short verse of less than thirty words is often one of the most memorable from confirmation class, and one that many will remember, even when many other passages have faded from our thoughts.

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. (John 3:16, NIV 1984)

This one, simple passage summarizes the reason for the Easter celebration only a few short weeks away. But, have you ever really considered what it means? Today, I want to take a closer look at what is really important in our church, the love of a God that truly cares for us. I want to look at the message that we were blessed with a savior who sacrificed Himself on behalf of us. The message behind John 3:16 is really what we need to understand each and every day. This short passage is a message of love, a message of sacrifice, and a message of comfort for millions of Christians across the globe. Today, we’re going to take a closer look at what God’s love really means.

But, before we dive into this passage, I want to use a more contemporary story to help us understand just what really is behind this message of grace and mercy. We often talk about the love of God for us as His children. But, can we really grasp what that means. How do we relate with the ever-present, unfathomable love of a forgiving God, for disobedient, error-ed, sinful, and sometimes, just plain mean spirited people? How do we relate our depraved nature with the undeserved grace that was bestowed on us? What does that gift really mean?

Rather than tackling this theological passage by dissecting the words and their individual meaning, I want to tackle this passage from another angle to grasp just how much God’s love really overflowed, I want to look at a more earthly example that sheds light on what love and sacrifice really mean. To help us look at this message in another way, let’s look at the story of Catherine and her son Jamison. A tragic story that shows how a violent accident can lead to a blessed gift. Here is their story.

Hello, Mrs. Lighter? There’s been an accident…

Before taking another step, Catherine Lighter stops to breathe. Every step will bring her closer to the four people standing in the middle of the room. Every step will bring her closer to her son.

"Momma, if I ever leave this world and my body goes, just give it to somebody," Jamison once told Catherine. "I can't use it no more. So I still want to live on."

He left this world earlier than his mother ever imagined possible. Jamison was only 21 when he was killed in a single-car accident.

On December 5, Catherine of Jackson, Mississippi saw a man named Paul Davis on TV. The Monticello resident was the first patient at the University of Mississippi Medical Center to receive a transplanted pancreas. He also received a kidney.

Catherine just knew. That's my baby.

Today Jamison lives on in Paul and the other people in this room. His liver is in Chuck Stevens . His second kidney in Major Wilkerson. His heart in Ronald McKinley. His lungs in a Missouri man. On Tuesday, the donor family and recipients met for the first time.

They were brought together at the Mississippi Organ Recovery Agency because Catherine wrote a letter. "I am your donor's mother. I am concerned about you, that you are all right and healing well. Would you like to meet?"

Donor families who want to meet recipients write similar letters. But not everyone chooses to have this day. Annie Lucious, an aftercare specialist with Mississippi Organ Recovery Agency, has seen people say no. Someone has died so they might live. What do you say to the family? How do you thank them?

"Hello," Paul Davis said when Catherine reached him. "I'm Paul."

He had been a Type 1 diabetic since the age of 9. He's lost six toes. He's been in five car accidents. He couldn't feel his sugar drop and blacked out while driving. He was on dialysis.

The two strangers stood in a silent hug. When they finally let go, Catherine hugged Chuck Stevens of Madison.

Chuck’s and Catherine's children share a first name: Jamison. On Thanksgiving Day in 2013, Chuck went into a coma. He needed a new liver. What had started with stomach pains evolved into something that left him virtually dead. He was on the list for seven months.

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