Florida quarterback Tim Tebow blazes New Testament verse of John 3:16 on his face last night as he led the Gators to the BCS National Championship

“John 3:16” has appeared in various forms at nationally televised sporting events over the years, but after University of Florida quarterback Tim Tebow inscribed it on his eye black for last night’s BCS National Championship game, the biblical reference became the most popular search item on Google.com.

Google Trends this morning had “John 3:16” ahead of searches for actress Mary Lynn Rajskub and the Windows 7 beta download. Searches for the Bible verse reached a peak during last night’s game.

In previous games, Tebow, an outspoken evangelical Christian who was born to missionary parents in the Philippines, sported on his eye black Philippians 4:13, notes Christianity Today. The verse says, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.”

The well-known verse John 3:16 is commonly presented as a summation of the Gospel: “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.”

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Tebow, who won the Heisman Trophy last year as a sophomore, led the Gators to a 24-14 victory last night over the University of Oklahoma.

Tebow and his four siblings were homeschooled by their parents, but a Florida law allowed him to play football for a public school team. He was named Florida’s high school Player of the Year in both his junior and senior seasons and developed a reputation for toughness, finishing a game with a broken leg.

Google users, at one point, searched for “John 3:16” more than any other term

In an interview last year with the Florida Baptist Witness, Tebow said football is not even the third most important thing in his life.

“I am fortunate to have family members, coaches and teammates around who can help me stay focused on the right things for us to be successful,” he said. “For me, every day includes four things: God, family, academics and football, in that order.”

Tebow’s “John 3:16” display last night drew attention in the blogosphere.

William Lobdell, author of “Losing My Religion: How I Lost My Faith Reporting on Religion in America – and Found Unexpected Peace,” had a mixed reaction.

But he concluded: “I have to wonder if his coaches or NCAA officials would allow him to have ‘There Is’ ‘No God’ written on his eye black below his right and left eyes.

“I imagine that these personal slogans will soon be banned,” he wrote.

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