Summary: The Greatest Verse in the Bible – John chapter 3 verses 16-21 – sermon by Gordon Curley PowerPoint slides to accompany this talk are available on request – email: firstname.lastname@example.org
• Comment: Clear & Simple (vs 16)
• Clarification: Belief & Unbelief (vs 17-18)
• Conclusion: Light & Darkness (vs 19-21)
• Muhammad Ali was an American professional boxer and activist.
• He is widely regarded as one of the most significant;
• And celebrated sports figures of the 20th century.
• One of his many media tricks was to look down the lens of a camera and shout;
• “I am the greatest!”
• Many of his fans bought tickets to see the champion perform;
• And others brought tickets in the hope of seeing him humbled!
• He tells the story in his book, ‘The Soul of a Butterfly’,
• That one time while on board a plane,
• The flight attendant asked him to put his seat belt on.
• He said to her, "Superman don't need no seat belt".
• She smiled at him and politely replied; "Superman don't need no plane, either."
• TRANSITION: If there is one word in the English language;
• That is sure to cause a debate when spoken, it is the word “greatest.”
• In fact, take two people, any people,
• And you can always stir trouble by using this one simple word.
• For example, ask a couple of rival football fans;
• Who is the greatest team or who had the greatest player or manager;
• And they will debate with one another for hours.
• Ask two car enthusiasts what is the greatest automobile ever made;
• And they will eagerly debate their opinion.
• Ask two people what is the greatest movie ever made?
• Or the greatest singer or group or record ever made?
• Or who the greatest prime minister or the greatest politician was,
• And they’ll chase that rabbit as long as they have breath to do so.
• There is something about that word “greatest”
• It stirs up something inside of us.
For many Christians our passage this morning contains the greatest verse in the Bible:
• This verse is over used by Christians;
• They wear it t-shirts, wristbands, car stickers, posters and… well the list goes on and on.
• I was preaching in Chippenham recently and they have a café called ‘3:16’
• In many sporting arenas (especially in the USA),
• It is not uncommon to find the reference ‘JOHN 3:16’ in large letters,
• Held up on a poster board somewhere in the crowd.
• In 2009 Tim Tebow (American professional baseball player);
• Wore this reference on his face during the National Championship game,
• He sparked off 90 million Google searches for the verse.
• TRANSITION: Now there are 31,102 verses in the Bible;
• So why does this one dominates the Christian ad campaign of promoting the gospel.
• In answering that question let me quote you the great reformer Martin Luther;
• He called John 3:16 “the gospel in miniature.”
• Others have called it “the Gospel in a nutshell.”
• It is the greatest verse in the Bible. It is the golden text of the Word of God.
• It is probably known by more people than any other verse in the entire Bible.
• I have a Gideon New Testament that I like to preach from,
• It is not just any old Gideon New Testament.
• It is a presentation edition that was given to me in 1987;
• When I did some work for the Gideon’s at one of their conventions.
• In the front of my Gideon New Testament is John 3:16 in 25 languages.
• And I have over the years as I have travelled around in a number of countries;
• Been able to witness and point out this verse in that persons language.
• Some of you might be surprised to know that there is debate regarding these words;
• The debate surrounds who actually spoke them or wrote them.
• Some would argue that these verses (16 to 21);
• Are a continuation of the words of Jesus to Nicodemus;
• If your Bible have the words of Jesus in red, these verses will probably be in red ink.
• Other would say no,
• The words of Jesus to Nicodemus end in verse 15;
• And the apostle John’s comments begin in verse 16.
A number of reasons support this idea – let me suggest three:
• Jesus often refers to Himself as the Son of Man (3:15),
• But never as God’s “one and only Son,” or “begotten son.”
• Which is John’s way of referring to Jesus.
• Also, Jesus does not normally refer to God as “God,”
• But rather Jesus always refers to God as “the Father” especially in John’s gospel.