John 3:16 – God So Loved the World
God gives God's Son as an act of divine love for the world, so that the world might have eternal life.
AnalysisThis verse about God's love for the world is one of the best known in Scripture. The meaning emerges when we realize that according to John's Gospel, the world was created by God, yet the world is also in rebellion against God. The world is often portrayed as a place of darkness, unbelief, and evil. The world is not inherently bad but has come under the sway of forces hostile to God. When the Gospel speaks about God's love for the world, it is not simply saying that God loves the world of blue skies and green fields. The point is that God loved the world that hated God; God loved the world that was alienated from God.
It is out of divine love that God gives God's only Son to be crucified. The context speaks of Jesus being lifted up, which means physically lifted up on the cross, just as Moses lifted up a bronze serpent on a pole in the wilderness (Numbers 21:1-9). In the story of the bronze serpent, people look at the serpent and are given life by being restored to health. In the story of the crucified Jesus, people are given life when they are brought to faith. It is the love of God, radically given in the crucifixion of Jesus, that can evoke faith in the people of the world. And when the love of God evokes faith, it brings the world back into a right relationship with its maker. That relationship is true life.