The Greatest Sentence Ever Written - Part 1

Bible Book: John  3 : 16
Subject: Christmas; God's Love; Eternal Life; God's Gift
The Greatest Sentence Ever Written – Part 1
Dr. J. Mike Minnix
John 3:16

As we draw near to Christmastime, we actually see the day that love was born. This is clearly stated in our text for today - John 3:16. On this Sunday before Christmas, I am speaking on The Greatest Sentence Ever Written, and I will complete the message with part 2 next week.

I want us to think of the greatest sentence ever written concerning the greatest gift every given and the greatest love every shown.

A little girl was looking in window of a bakery at all the sweets. A woman saw her and took her in to buy her whatever her little heart desired. Then the lady took the little girl to buy some new clothes, because she could see that the child was very poor. As the woman turned to leave, the little girl looked up and asked her, “Are you God’s wife?” Indeed, the little girl knew of only one type of love that would befriend her so kindly and richly – and that was God’s love!

Someone said, “Never fall in love with a tennis player; to him love means nothing.” We are going to see afresh today that love means everything to God.

There is no better time to look at God's love than Christmastime, for we see in the humble birth of the King of Glory just how much God's loves each one of us. Granted, for us to look at God's love has its limits. We are so finite and He is so infinite that our examination of His love will be greatly lacking, but with the aid of His Spirit we shall know enough to bless us as we simply get a peek at the amazing love of God.

Today we are looking at John 3:16, which has been referred to as the gospel in a nutshell. Indeed, there is enough of the Gospel in John 3:16 to lead the vilest sinner to salvation and warm the heart of the coldest Christian. This is, surely, the greatest sentence ever written, for it speaks of the Greatest Love, by the Greatest Lover, offering the Greatest Gift to the Greatest Number in the Greatest Way for the Greatest Purpose. Let’s look at this great sentence and this great love.

I. The Greatness in its Origin

Where does love come from? Have you ever thought of that? Listen, love originated in the heart of God – for God is love. You are made in the image of God and thus you know at least a measure of the nature of love. Without being in God’s image, we as humans would act like animals – by instinct alone. In fact, when we reject God in our lives, we do act like animals and we see that kind of behavior in our world every day. Note three dimensions in the greatness of God’s originating love …

A. The Height of It

True love is heavenly in nature. It was not created on earth, but originated in heaven. It is as high as God, as lofty as heaven itself. No one ever knows the highest nature of love until you meet God in Jesus Christ. You see, Jesus brought heavenly love down to earth so that we might mount up to the heights of heaven. He was born in from the virgin womb of Mary and laid in a manger in order that we might experience the true nature of heavenly love.

B. The Depth of It

Love comes from the depth of God’s own heart. Unlike our love, which is so much on the surface of human life. One only knows the true depth of love when he or she finds it in Christ. It is so deep that it took the Son of God down into a borrowed tomb in order to we might experience it.

We see the depth of His love when we look at Jesus wrapped in baby clothes, lying in a manger. He was not born in mansion, or a palace, but in a lowly town, to a lowly family, in the lowest of all places - an animal shelter. He came to save the least, the last and the lost of this world.

C. The Width of It

God’s love is so wide that it reaches poor shepherds and the wisest Magi! Our love tends to be restricted to a tight circle.

Edwin Markham penned the words:

“He drew a circle that shut me out-
Heretic , rebel, a thing to flout.
But love and I had the wit to win:
We drew a circle and took him In!”

That is actually what God’s love did for us - He drew a circle that offers all the chance to have a relationship with God. Even though the world, and we are part of it, rejected God’s Son, He loves us still. He wooed us through His Spirit. He called us to accept His love found in His Son. John 3:16 expresses the incredible width of God’s Love. “For God so loved the WORLD…” What amazing love, indeed!

Red and yellow, Black and White
They are precious in His sight
Jesus loves the little children of the world
(and the big children, too!)
D. The Length of It

God’s love is as long as time and beyond. It cannot be measured, for it is an eternal love. John 3:16 reminds us that all who find forgiveness and grace through the love of God, all bound up in His Son, have eternal life. Life is so short on this earth, but God’s love overcomes the death that is just in front of each of us. God’s love kicked the end of the grave and removed the short length of life.

God's love is not only great in its origin, but notice the ...

II. Greatness In Its Object

Love must have an object, for love does not exist in a vacuum. Some love the sunshine, and some love the rain. We love things and we love having fun. We love our family members and some even love their in-laws. Love must have an object to actually be love. Think of the object of God’s love

A. Love for an Enemy

In our sin, we are enemies of God, yet God loved us even while we were in our sins. It is normal to love those who love you, especially those who are your true and faithful friends. But, it takes a divine love to have affection for an enemy. That is the nature of God’s love. Not one of us is a friend of God in our natural state. We are enemies of God and His Kingdom. He seeks us out with love and grace, and desires that we embrace the greatness of His gift of salvation. Oh, what love – love that seeks to forgive those whose sins crucified His Son. That is God’s love revealed in John 3:16.

You see, when God came down in human form on that first Christmas night, He came so that "whosoever" can be saved. Herod had a chance to believe, but he chose hate. He rejected the Savior. One believes upon the Savior, while another berates the Savior. One accepts the Savior, while another avoids the Savior. None is lost due to the lack of love from heaven, but people are lost because they reject the love of God in Christ.

B. Love for Evil

God does not love evil, but He loves those who are evil. In fact, he took our evil to give us His love. Our nature without Christ is one of obnoxious, malicious and revolting depravity. Yet, God still loved us and sought us through His Son.

E.V. Hill was a great black preacher. He was threatened by racists who sent notes informing him that they were going to kill him. One day a note came stating that a car bomb was placed under his car. Hill got up the next morning and noticed that his wife wasn’t in the house. He called for her but she didn’t answer. He walked out the front door and saw her drive the family car into the driveway. She got out still wearing her housecoat. He said, “Where have you been?” She said, “Well, when I saw that note claiming that a car bomb was placed under your car, I decided to get up and drive the car myself. I figured it would be okay for me to die, but you are needed to much to be killed right now.”

Isn't that what Jesus did for us? He came into the world to take the bomb of judgment and death for us. He came ot pay the price for our sins. What amazing love!

III. Greatness In Its Opulence

Love always costs the lover. When a man buys an engagement ring, he must spend precious money to do so. That it is what love does – it spends whatever is necessary. Think of the opulence of God’s love for us.

When Jesus was born, He knew that the cross lay before Him. He even told Pilate that He came into this world for the purpose of giving His life on the cross. I say a Christmas card some years ago that pictured the baby Jesus in the manger, and across the manger was the shadow of a cross. That is a true picture of His reason for coming into this world.

Think of what it cost Him for us to be saved.

A. The Stress of Gethsemane

I’ve stood in the Garden of Gethsemane more than one time, and when I’ve been there I’ve been brought to tears. Jesus prayed there, while His disciples slept. He prayed there knowing what was ahead of Him. Sweat drops of blood fell from his brow. He was bleeding for us before that put the crown of thorns on His head or the nails in His hands. His love carried Him through Gethsemane, while He prayed, “Not my will but tine be done.”

B. The Suffering of Golgotha

Think of His bearing our iniquities, of taking our beating. What Jesus suffered on the way to the cross and during His crucifixion is a testimony of the opulence of God’s love for us. His tears, His pain, His agony are the gifts of grace given for our redemption. He took upon Himself the sins of the world at Calvary.

C. The Scorn of Glory

Think of Him experiencing what is described in Psalm 22:1 and quoted by Jesus while on the cross. “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” The scorn of glory that ought to be on us was placed on Him. Only love endured that!

Jesus was God’s only begotten Son, but on the cross He was God’s FORGOTTEN Son. I don’t mean that literally but certainly the idea is there as Jesus took our sins. We are not forgotten because the Only Begotten took our place.


Jesus came into this world in Bethlehem to be God's gift of love and eternal life. Will you accept the gift of God's love and forgiveness today? To do so is to turn from sin and trust in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.