I did not realize for a long time that John 3:16 was Jesus speaking. I’d read this citation in end zones at football games, among other public places in person and on television. I knew it was from the New Testament and I knew it was from the Gospel of John. But I was not tracking, not really thinking about, who was saying those words. I guess I always figured it was the Gospel writer himself. I suppose I should be embarrassed to admit that. But it’s true and for me, once I (recently) read those words in context, it made them much more powerful to me.
Jesus is speaking to Nicodemus. He’s sort of engaged in some basic, but crucial, catechesis. It’s actually Theology 101. Just because it’s basic does not make it any less vital to our lives, to the world, to our salvation.
Basic means the foundation. Everything else for the Christian should be built on this reality. God loved the world that much. And He’s the example we have of how to love completely – recklessly, extravagantly, in total self-denial – because the good of the other is the only thing that matters.
We must, of course, think about what the “good” really is. For Jesus that means our everlasting life with His Father. As His followers, that’s what it means for us, too.