John 3:16 was spoken by Jesus to Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. In the verse preceding John 3:16, Jesus told Nicodemus:
“And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:15).
In Numbers 21:4-10, the children of Israel became discouraged while in the wilderness. In their unbelief, they spoke against God and Moses. God righteously judged their sin by sending fiery serpents among them. The fiery serpents bit them and many of them died.
In response, the people confessed their sin to Moses and asked him to pray to God so that He would take the fiery serpents away.
God instructed Moses to make a serpent and set it on a pole. Moses made a bronze serpent. When anyone who had been bitten by the fiery serpent looked upon the bronze serpent, they would live.
I’m sure many of the people questioned how looking at the bronze serpent would save them. It didn’t make sense, but they had to trust God’s plan for their salvation. In order to be saved, they had to look upon the serpent–a reminder of their sin and judgment.
Moses lifting up the bronze serpent in the wilderness was a foreshadowing of Jesus. Like the bronze serpent, the Son of Man, Jesus Christ, would be lifted up on a tree–cursed for our sins (Galatians 3:13)
He who knew no sin became sin so that, in Him, we might become the righteousness of God (2 Corinthians 5:21).
On the cross, God the Father treated and judged Jesus for every past, present, and future sin of mankind. He poured out His wrath on Jesus as if He had committed these sins, when He had not.
John 3:16 depicts the great love of the Father for us. He sent His only Son to earth to die a horrific death for our sins. God didn’t have two, three, or five sons. No, He had one and He gave Him up for all of us (Romans 8:32).
Moreover, Jesus in His great love for us, laid down His life. He died so we could live forever–free from the eternal death and condemnation we deserve.
Because of Jesus’s finished work on the cross, anyone who puts their faith in Him will be saved (Romans 10:9-10).
John 3:16 is the heart of the gospel because it depicts God’s extravagant love for mankind.
If you are a believer, I hope you will take the time to meditate upon John 3:16. Take the time to remember what God has done for you–and all of us. May it draw you closer to God and increase your affection and devotion to Him.
If you are an unbeliever, I pray that God opens your eyes to see, your ears to hear, and your heart to receive the truth of His precious Son Jesus Christ.
Be encouraged! You are loved! ❤️