After watching many National Football League games growing up, I finally grew curious enough to walk into my parents' office and pick up the family Bible. It seemed every football broadcast included shots of someone standing in the end zone, behind and between the goal posts, holding up a simple sign: John 3:16. I knew enough about the Bible to locate the Book of John in the New Testament. When I read John 3:16, I wasn't impressed. Turns out the verse was familiar, thanks to Sunday school. I guess I expected to read some sort of decoded message that would unlock a valuable secret. In some sense that's exactly what I read, but I didn't yet have the eyes of faith to behold the beauty of what God has done in Jesus Christ.

You probably won't be surprised to learn that John 3:16is the most-searched Bible verse, according to statistical analysis provided by the folks at Bible Gateway. They reviewed the behavior of some of the 8 million visitors who stop by their site each month, many of them chasing results provided by Google. I was intrigued to review the top 10 results, which I've listed in reverse order.

10.) Matthew 28:19: "Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit."

9.) Philippians 4:6: "Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God."

8.) Romans 12:2: "Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will."

7.) Proverbs 3:6: "In all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight."

6.) Proverbs 3:5: "Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding."

5.) Genesis 1:1: "In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth."

4.) Philippians 4:13: "I can do all this through him who gives me strength."

3.) Romans 8:28: "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose."

2.) Jeremiah 29:11: "‘For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'"

1.) John 3:16: "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life."

Four verses come from the Old Testament. Two more come from the Gospels, and four may be found in the Pauline epistles. You've seen many of these verses on bumper stickers, bookmarks, plaques, and various other knickknacks you can buy in a Christian bookstore. tim tebow wrote some of them on his eye black, knowing cameras would zoom in on it during his days as Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback at the University of Florida. In fact, when Tebow's Gators won the national championship in 2009, john 3:16 topped google's list of hottest searches.