Millions of Super Bowl viewers got a dose of Scripture Sunday night when a Christian group's John 3:16 commercial was unexpectedly aired.
Just before the fourth quarter of the Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Green Bay Packers game, the 30-second biblical spot popped up to the surprise of football fans in Washington, D.C. It also aired in Birmingham, Ala.
Within those hours, the Look Up 316 website that the commercial advertised drew so much traffic that it was difficult to load the web page.
"The LookUp316.com website hit totals are soaring ...," Larry Taunton, executive director of Fixed Point Foundation, the group behind the ad, tweeted.
The commercial was rejected to run nationally by Fox Sports for containing too much "religious doctrine" and for being too offensive.
Notably, the commercial features no preaching but simply encourages curious viewers to look up John 3:16.
In the television ad, a group of friends are watching a football game in a living room. They cheer when one of the players on defense tackles his opponent. Then a closeup is shown of the defensive player's eye black where he has painted "John 3:16." One of the viewers asks his neighbor what that means. After the neighbor shrugs, the viewer offers to look it up for them on his cell phone.
The commercial concludes with "LookUp316.com: A Message of Hope."
For curious viewers, the website offers a simple explanation of the verse's meaning, starting from why the world isn't quite right to Jesus Christ giving his life for everyone and him being the only hope.
Well aware that more than 100 million viewers tune in to the Super Bowl game and that the special commercials are an event in itself, Fixed Point Foundation sought to use that platform to share "the most important message the world has ever heard."
"Few people have the chance to say something truly meaningful. And, more often than not, that opportunity is wasted," the Birmingham, Ala.-based organization said. "Even our biggest media and cultural event, the Super Bowl, is chock full of million-dollar clutter. Massive amounts of money are spent talking about trivial things – like beer and potato chips.
"What if you used that opportunity to do something great?" That is, say something meaningful.
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. John 3:16
The mission of Fixed Point Foundation is to promote a confident Christianity in the public square by fortifying the minds of Christians and challenging the faith of skeptics.
The Packers defeated the Steelers, 31-25.