Max Lucado writes as only he can, with insight and brevity, packaged in powerful imagery. His latest book, 3:16, is packed with delivious observations and challenges, and he does it by focusing on 27 simple words.
For God so loved the world that He gave his one and only son so that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.
Max then proceeds to add personal stories and humor, supporting and explantory scripture, and writes an entire book on just those few words. An entire chapter on “the world,” another on “He gave,” still another on “one and only son,” and so one. I enjoyed the chapter on “gave;” salvation from Christ is truly a gift, and not one that we have to earn. The good deeds we do gains us no entry into heaven; Christ did it all on our behalf.
The chapter on “perish” is a description of hell that should not be glossed over. For some reason, we don’t like to talk about hell, and when we do, we minimize it to lessen its impact. When we says, “that was a hell of a steak,” somehow we’re complimenting food with a description of eternal torment. We don’t do it with lesser punishments; “my golf game has gone to prison” doesn’t invoke the same image. Hell is described in the bible as a real and eternal place, and Max Lucado finds scripture to support the image of hell full of people choosing not to spend time with God. I found it interesting that Max Lucado doesn’t describe it as full of people wishing they had chose God; the scripture that mentions the rich mand and Lazarus says the rich man wanted Lazarus to visit him in hell. Why didn’t the rich man want to visit heaven instead? Perhaps people in hell are so hardened by their refusal of Christ that they are eternally without God and alone with their selfish thoughts, lying tongues, thieving hearts.
Max Lucado’s 3:16 ends with a 40 day devotional that describes Jesus, both man and God, and what his daily life was like. Who were his friends, and what did they do? Have you ever pondered a man that was liked enough to be invited to a wedding? Jesus was likeable. A man who absorbed the weight of the worlds sins and left Him anguished and crying blood while He waited for God’s judgment to fall on him for sins He didn’t commit but willingly accepted? And after Jesus’ death, and after Peter had disowned Him, Jesus appears while the disciples were fishing, and fixes Peter breakfast. No hint of scorn, no hint of His friend’s betrayal, Jesus simply offers grace. Always.
This book is worth reading over and over and over. Follow the scripture references and read about the greatest gift ever offered to us, and how God so loved us so much that He would die for us so that we can join Him in an eternal, sinless, and reconciled life.