John Three Sixteen


One cold wintry night a poor Irish boy stood in the streets of Dublin – a little city Arab, homeless, houseless, friendless. He had taken to bad courses, and become an associate of thieves, who were early leading him to a wasted life of sin and crime.

As he stood there waiting, shivering and cold, a hand was suddenly laid on his shoulder. It was very dark; he could see a tall form standing by him, and he trembled with fear; but kindly a voice said, “Boy, what are you doing here at this time of night? Such as you have no business in the streets at so late an hour; go home, got to bed.” “I have no home, and no bed to go to.” “That’s very
sad, poor fellow! Would you go to a home and to bed if I provided one?” “That would I, sharp!” replied the boy. “Well, in such a street, and at such a number (indicating a place) you will find a bed.” Before he could add more, the lad had started off. “Stop!” said the voice, “how are you going to get in? You need a pass; no one can go in there without a pass. Here is one for you. Can you read?” “No, sir.” “Well, remember that the pass is “JOHN 3:16,’ don’t forget, or they won’t let you in. ‘JOHN 3:16.’ There, my lad, that’s something that will help you and do you good.”

Joyfully the lad rushed off, repeating his lesson, and soon found himself in the street and at the number indicated before a pair of large iron gates. Then his heart failed him, they looked so grand. How could he get in there? Timidly he rang the bell. The night porter opened, and in a gruff voice asked, “Who’s there?” “ME, sir; please sir, I’m JOHN THREE SIXTEEN,” in very trembling tones
answered the boy. “All right, IN with you, that’s the pass,” and in the boy went, full of astonishment.

He was soon in a nice warm bed, such as he had never seen before, and as he curled himself up to go to sleep, he thought, “This is a lucky name, I’ll stick to it!” The next morning he was given a bowl of of bread and milk before being sent out into the street (for this home was only for a night.) He wandered on and on, afraid of meeting his old companions, thinking over his new name, when,
heedlessly crossing a crowded thoroughfare, he was run over by a passing vehicle and badly injured.

A crowd collected, and with all speed the unconscious boy was taken to the nearest hospital. He revived as they were carrying him in.

It is usual in Dublin hospitals to put down the religion, as well as the name and address, of those admitted. They asked him whether he was a Catholic or Protestant. “Sure he didn’t quite know. Yesterday he was a Catholic, but now he was JOHN THREE SIXTEEN.” This reply amused them and elicited a laugh.

After his injuries had been attended to, he was carried into the accident ward. IN a short time, his sufferings brought on fever and delirium. Then was heard, in ringing tones, and oft repeated, “JOHN THREE SIXTEEN! It was to do me good, and so it has!”

These persistent cries aroused the other patients. Testaments were pulled out to see to what he pointed. What could he mean? and here one and then another read the precious words: “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.” Luther called this verse “The Miniature Bible.” When those poor sick folk had read the tender words and heard the injured lad’s unconscious comment –
“It was to do me good, and so it has!” the spirit stirred within them, and God used that text then and there to the conversion of souls. The sovereign power of God used this one text from the lips of a poor boy in that hospital ward, and souls were saved from sin and death and brought into the light and liberty of the Gospel.

After a time of rest and care, consciousness returned, and the poor little fellow gazed around him. How vast it looked, and how quiet it was! Where was he? Presently a voice from the next bed said: “JOHN THREE SIXTEEN and how are you today?” “Why, how do you know my new name?” “Know it! You’ve never ceased with your JOHN THREE SIXTEEN, and I for one say, Blessed John Three Sixteen!” This sounded strange to the little lad’s ears. To be called blessed! he for whom no
one cared. “And don’t you know where it comes from – it’s from the Bible.” “The Bible! what’s that?” The poor little waif had never heard of a Bible – that blessed Book, God’s Word to man, “Read it to me,” he said, and as the words fell on his ear he muttered, “That’s beautiful; it’s all about love, and not a home for night, but a home for always!” He soon learned the text, saying, “I’ve not only got a new name, but something to it!” This was indeed a joy. Days passed
on, and there were changes in the ward, but our little friend never felt lonely; he fed on his text and its precious words, little thinking how soon he would have use for them. Yet another soul in that ward was to be won by his means, and now in simple conscious faith he was to be the agent of blessing. On a cot near him lay an old man who was very ill. Early one morning a nun came to his
bedside, and said, “Patrick, how is it with you today?” “Badly, badly,” groaned the old man. “Has the priest been to see you?” asked the nun. “Oh, yes, but that makes me worse, for he has annointed me with holy oil, and I am marked for death! I am not fit to die; oh, what shall I do?” “Patrick, it’s very sad to see you so,” she gently answered; “look, here are these beads, they will help you die happy.” She placed them around the man’s neck, and then wishing him good-
bye, went out. But how could a string of beads ease a dying man facing eternity with his sins unforgiven? Poor Patrick groaned aloud. “God have mercy,” he cried, “I’m such a sinner; I’m not fit to die. Oh, what will become of me?”

Our little fellow heard his miserable words. “Poor old man,” thinks he, “he wants a pass!” “Patrick,” he called, “I know something that will do you good – quite sure – it has done me.” “Tell me, tell me quickly,” cried Patrick. “If only I could find something to do me good.” “here it is! Now, listen. JOHN 3:16 Are you listening?” “yes, yes; go on.” “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.'” Through these words Patrick found peace in his dying hour.

Our little friend recovered. For long JOHN 3:16 was his one text. God blessed his simple faith; friends placed him at school; and now he is an earnest, hearty workers for the Master. Will you put your name into “whosoever” of John 3:16?

(The above material was published by Pilgrim Tract Society, Inc., Randleman,

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