(John 3:16 NIV) “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.”

Martin Luther once said concerning this passage that he was extremely happy that this passage did not say, “For God so loved Martin Luther…” because Luther said he would have thought Jesus was talking about a different Martin Luther than himself.  Martin Luther took comfort in this beautiful passage that “God so loved the world…”  Martin Luther knew that he was included in all people of the world.  There was no escaping that fact.  Any way Luther looked at it, he had to admit that this passage included him!  And what joy this gave to Luther knowing that God the Father sent His one and only Son into this world for him!  What comfort it gave Luther to know that God the Holy Spirit gave to him the faith that believed in Jesus.  And what peace it brought to Luther’s heart knowing that Jesus, God’s own Son, paid for his sins on the cross and gave to him eternal life in heaven!

And what did Luther do to receive these blessings?  Absolutely nothing!  This passage does not say, “…whoever believes in him and gives lots of money to church, lives a good life, and does good works shall not perish but have eternal life.”  But it says whoever believes in Jesus (that He died for their sins and rose from the grave for them) shall not perish (for an eternity in hell) but have eternal life.

God does not play favorites.  He does not give an advantage to those who give more money to church, do more good works, or are “nicer” than others.  But He loved everyone so much that He sent His one and only Son into this world to die for all people no matter what nation, tribe, race, or gender, no matter if they were rich or poor, and no matter how “good” or “bad” of a person they were.   And that blessing of his Son and what he has done for the world is for all people.

And for those who believe in Jesus as their Savior they receive the gift of eternal life! And this gift of eternal life is… FREE!   You don’t have to do a thing to get to heaven because Jesus has already done it all for you!  And since the Holy Spirit has caused you to believe in Jesus through your baptism and through the hearing of God’s word you know that in a little over two weeks when you see Jesus hanging on the cross on Good Friday, that He is on that cross paying for the world’s sins, paying for your sins, and giving to you eternal life in heaven!  And how can you be certain that Jesus is paying for your sins and giving you all of these blessings?  Because, “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 in heaven!”

Thankful that God so loved the world just like you,

Pastor Schumann