No doubt that there have been volumes written in an effort to expound the scope and magnitude of God’s pronouncement of a Savior, but all attempts are unable to exhaust the richness of a simple statement that is perhaps the most well known verse of Scripture … “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 (John 3:16 KJV).
It’s placement in the text of John’s gospel reveals that Jesus has just concluded a visit with a teacher of the Jewish law named Nicodemus. This man was well- versed in the Hebrew Scriptures and in the religious practices of Judaism, yet his soul was not satisfied. Not knowing what he lacked, he came to Jesus. That was wise… “For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10 KJV). Always drawing from that which was familiar to whom he was speaking, Jesus said to this Jewish teacher … “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:14-15 KJV).
Simply believe in Him - why? Jesus then gives the answer to the “why.” “For God so loved that He gave.” To receive the gift of eternal life was not dependent on the knowledge of the person with whom Jesus was speaking, but rather on the “doing” of the Heavenly Father. It was because of His love for mankind, though mankind was not deserving of that love. There are some people who think that God is impressed with man’s good efforts, but man’s good and God’s perfection are not on the same par. Man evaluates his best works with much pride for they are compatible with his nature and essence.
However, God views mankind differently based on His essence … “But we [humanity] are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousness are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away” (Isa 64:6 KJV). Thus, because of His love, He took upon Himself the solution to man’s hopeless condition of having no relationship with God. It required the maximum expression of His love … “that he gave his only begotten Son,” – His uniquely born One.
Much of the world has just celebrated the birth of this uniquely born One called Jesus. Everything about God’s gift was unique. John wrote that God would be with us … “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth” (John 1:14 KJV). That was the incarnation, the babe in the manager, the result of a virgin being conceived by the Holy Spirit in fulfillment of the promise that the seed of the woman would crush the serpent’s head (Gen 3:15). God would bring into existence a people and a nation through which Messiah would come into the world. Every Satanic attempt to thwart God’s plan by eliminating the “seed line” would fail, for God was faithful to keep His promises.
The Babe arrived in God’s perfect time to fulfill His mission – wrapped in swaddling clothes, not because that is all that Mary possessed, but in God’s design for redemption, she would picture what lay ahead, death. Messiah coming to earth was necessary, but the Cross is what accomplished salvation. He must bear the sins of the world, not in a collective way, but that of each individual, so that the barrier of sin that separated mankind from God would be removed. His Work on the Cross was totally satisfactory, meeting the demands of God’s perfect Righteousness. Christ Himself declared “it is finished” (John 19:30). Eternal life was purchased at His expense and offered freely so … “that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting [eternal] life” (John 3:16b KJV).