The gifts we give one another are an interesting indicator of how we value each other. What did the gift we give cost us, not just in dollars, but also in time, emotion, and sacrifice? A child giving a cherished toy to another is a princely gift, even if it is of little real value. Gifts say something about the giver and the recipient. So, what does God’s gift of His one and only Son say about God and us?
John wrote, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.” (John 3:16–17, NASB95)
The phrase we’re exploring today is “that He gave His only begotten Son.” God gave. Perhaps thinking back to this verse, John later wrote, “By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him.” (1 John 4:9, NASB95) Jesus is God’s gift, freely given, infinitely valuable, and precious.
This gift shouts about God’s love for us. It tells us about God’s motives and methods, He doesn’t control through fear but woos and invites through love. The preciousness of the gift declares how much God values us, His creation. Would a watchmaker sacrifice his own son to save a broken watch? I doubt it. But God gave His Son to redeem a lost and broken world – all because of His love.
Folks sometimes struggle to get Jesus right, to really understand His uniqueness in history. John 3:16 says that Jesus is God’s “only-begotten.” But that is a picture based on human experience. The underlying word means “one and only, unique from everything else.” John begins his Gospel with, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” (John 1:1, NASB95) Jesus, the Word, is God and yet distinct. Jesus, God the Son, was not created but preexisted with God before the creation. A mystery that we cannot fully wrap our heads around or begin to explain.
Think of it this way; God didn’t send an angel to save the world. He didn’t pick one human out of the whole of humanity for the job. God gave the most precious thing He could give – a part of Himself – His one and only Son.
Just dwell on that for a moment and marvel at the preciousness of the gift. Consider what that tells us about God’s love for us, for you. Let it sink in how much God values every human life. Recognize that God gave instead of demanded. “For God so loved the world, that He gave His one and only Son.”