John 3:16 was said to one man, at night
For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son,
that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.
In the Gospel of John Jesus said this. The depth of this phrase cannot be exhausted, though its words can be incorrectly expanded (meaning that through repetition it can lose its strength). And this is exactly what has happened. This truth has been ruined to many from two things: 1) repetition and 2) speaking of it and not the physical surroundings that accompanied it. I am going to show what is seen to many, when this verse is read, and then I will explain a precious truth that has been forgotten.
For some, the first time that this verse is seen by them is at a football game. A man behind a goalpost will open up a sign reading, "John 3:16" after a kicker has kicked the ball through the uprights. Or it will be seen on the back of a man who runs into a street and tackles a marathon runner, or it will be seen on a giant sign on the side of a broken bus in someone's field. In some way or another this verse has been slapped onto people's chests, onto billboards, and into the minds of a vast number of people. Since the verse is brought to the individual as an individual verse then one is likely to assume either a vacant idea of where it was said, or they will conjure a stock image of Jesus: on the sea, on a hill in the sunshine, in the temple. But the verse was not said on a sunny day to thousands of people, and it was not said on the shore.
There was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews.
This man came to Jesus by night and said to Him, "Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher of God; for no one can do these signs unless God is with him." (John 3:1-2)
There is a truth here that the man in the football stands has not been able to carry with him, and there is a truth here that the field owner could not write with spray paint on the side of his broken bus. That truth is where this (the greatest truth) was said. It was said, at night, to a single person! Now this is not an attempt at saying anything about taking verses out of context or about how Christianity can only exist in certain ways. This is about pulling a great truth of God out of the darkness. Nicodemus was a ruler of the Jewish people, he was known as a wise and good man. But he came, at night, alone, to the Christ.
Let us pretend that when he said this to him it was cold outside and that the animal that he rode on was there too, being pat on the head by its owner. One can guess that Nicodemus was eager to learn from Jesus, otherwise he would have gone to see him with the other multitudes during the day. Let us pretend that when they were speaking, Jesus had a spiritual control of the situation, that no insect stirred and that no person interrupted them. There, at night, Jesus formed words that expelled out of his mouth and the heaviness of those words could have broken the backs of elephants. But they were carried on the light breeze and they entered the ears of Nicodemus. What kind of concentration must His eyes have held!? And what weight must entered his ears! This abyssal phrase was said, at night, between two people. That truth is one that cannot be overlooked.