I was reflecting on John 3:16 this morning, a verse I’ve known since I was young, maybe the first verse I ever learned, when suddenly a small word I’ve always taken for granted stood out to me...the word “so.”
“For God SO loved the world…”
What is important about that word? Simply, what its inclusion in the verse signifies. The verse could have said, “For God loved the world,” but it doesn’t. I’m assuming that is because the simple English word for love wasn’t big enough. The original word must have meant more. “For God SO loved the world…”
What kind of love would cause the God of the universe to humble Himself to be born a small, helpless baby in a lowly manger whose mission was to suffer, and die in the place of His guilty creation? A very big love. The kind of love you and I will never be able to fully comprehend.
No, I don’t think the simple English word for love can do THAT kind of love justice…but neither does simply adding the word “so,” except that the word “so” hints at the truth that God’s love for mankind was more. More than we can imagine with our finite minds, more than we can express with our finite language. He didn’t just love the world, He SO loved the world. When we were unable to go to God, He came to us.
I have two nativities displayed in my house. One is more expensive,the kids may look but not touch, and one I set out specifically for them to be able to handle. Both contain, at their center, the tiny baby Jesus lying in a manger. This year when I look at that tiny baby I’m going to think about a tiny word with huge implications. God didn’t just love me, He SO loved me that He sent His only begotten Son, who would eventually hang on a cross, paying for my sin, dying my death, and rising again victorious.
What a great God! What a great love!
John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”