Compassion and understanding: Joey’s story

Opinions - December 19th, 2003
tokyoweekender_Ev. Kenny Joseph

by Ev. Kenny Joseph

You’ve seen on TV someone holding up a sign that reads, “John 3:16” at football, basketball and other games, haven’t you? Why? What does it mean? Here’s an easy story to explain it.

In Chicago one cold, dark December night, a blizzard was blowing in. Joey, a little orphan boy, was selling newspapers on the corner. People hustled in and out of the cold, buying Christmas presents. Little Joey was so cold that he really wasn’t trying very hard to sell papers.

He approached a policeman and said, “Mister, you wouldn’t happen to know where a poor boy could find a warm place to sleep tonight, would you? You see, I sleep in a cardboard box around that corner and down that alley. It’ll be awful cold in there tonight. Sure would be nice to have a warm place to stay.”

The policeman looked down at little Joey and said, “Go down the street to the big, white house and knock on the door. When they answer it, you just say, ‘John 3:16.'”

He followed the directions, and the lady who answered the knock said, “Come on in, son.” She took him in and sat him down in a rocker in front of a great big fireplace, and then she went off.

Joey sat there for a while and thought to himself: John 3:16…I don’t understand it, but it sure makes a cold boy warm here.

Later the lady came back and asked him, “Are you hungry?”

He said, “Well, just a little. I haven’t eaten much in a couple of days, and I could sure stand a little food.”

The lady then took him into the kitchen and sat him down to a table full of wonder­ful food. He ate and ate until he couldn’t eat any more. Then he thought to himself: John 3:16…boy, I don’t understand it, but it sure makes a hungry boy full.

After that, she took him upstairs to a huge bathtub filled with warm water and he sat in there just enjoying the warmth and quietness. Still he kept thinking of John 3:16…I don’t understand it, but this does make a dirty boy warm and clean, he thought. “You know I’ve never had a real bath like this in my whole life. The only bath I ever had was when I stood in front of that big old fire hydrant in the summer as they flushed it out.”

The lady came in and got him. She took him to a room, tucked him into a big feathered bed, pulled the covers up around his neck, kissed him good night and turned out the lights, telling him to have a good night’s sleep.

As he lay in the darkness and looked out the window at the heavy snow coming down on that cold Christmas night, he again thought to himself: John 3:16…I don’t understand it, but it sure makes a tired boy rested!

The next morning, after he had dressed, the lady came back up and took him down again to that same table full of food. When he had finished eating, she took him over to that same big rocker in front of the fireplace and looked into his young face.

“Do you understand John 3:16?” she asked gently.

He replied, “No ma’am, I don’t. The first time I ever heard it was last night when the policeman told me to use it.”

The lady then opened an old Bible to John 3:16, read it to him and explained the story of Jesus: coming at Christmas, 2,000 years ago, to be his Savior.

“For God so loved the world that He gave His begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

Right there in front of that big fireplace he gave his heart and life to Jesus. She told him to put his name in like, “For God so loved Joey that He gave His only Son that if Joey believes in Him, Joey will not perish, but have everlasting life.”

He sat there and thought: John 3:16. I don’t understand it, but it sure makes a lost boy feel safe.

You know, I have to confess I don’t understand it either, how God was willing to give His Son to die for me, and Jesus would agree to do such a thing.

I don’t understand the agony of the Father and every angel in Heaven as they watched Jesus suffer and die. I don’t understand the intense love for me that kept Jesus on the cross for six hours until the end. I don’t understand it, but it sure does make life worth living.

In these days of worldwide turmoil, it’s unbeatable to have the assurance that the Jesus of John 3:16, whose birth we cele­brate at Christmas, is alive and well and will help us here on planet earth if we’ll just ask Him and give Him a chance.


The World’s Greatest Person:

  1. For God…The greatest person of love
  2. So loved the world…the greatest depth of love
  3. He gave…the greatest Gift
  4. His only begotten Son…the greatest Son of God
  5. His Son…the greatest Savior
  6. Whoever believes in.. .the greatest simple people
  7. Even only one…the greatest number
  8. Should not perish…the greatest salvation
  9. Have…the greatest certainty
  10. Everlasting life…the greatest thing

The blind Fanny J. Crosby penned these immortal words:

Down in the human heart,
Crushed by the tempter,
Feelings lie buried that grace can restore;
Touched by a loving heart,
Wakened by kindness,
Chords that were broken will vibrate once more.
Rescue the perishing,
Care for the dying;
Jesus is merciful,
Jesus will save.