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. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him.
The above verses are perhaps the most famous verses from the New Testament. Here, Jesus is explaining to Nicodemus the purpose of His first advent. Nicodemus was a religious leader who was seeking to understand Jesus and His mission. Nicodemus recognized Jesus as a “teacher who has come from God.” On the surface, we see at least a curiosity stirring in Nicodemus’ heart. Jesus would go on to speak of the need to be “born again.” Nicodemus did not understand what Jesus was talking about. Jesus then speaks concerning his death and resurrection.
Some believe that John 3:16 is the Christmas story in summary form. “For God so loved that world that He gave…” Jesus came into this world to die and give His life as a ransom for many. According to our text, the only thing required to access this eternal life that Jesus offers is simple faith. We enter into this new life by simply trusting in the person and work of Christ.
Simple faith is all that is required. We do not gain access to reconciliation with God through self-effort. Religion has led many a person away from God. Instead, we must acknowledge that Jesus is the Son of God who came into this world to die that we might live with God for eternity. In this text, Jesus is not talking about an intellectual acknowledgment of who He is. To “believe” here means to trust in, have full confidence in, or to rely upon something or someone. This goes well beyond intellectual ascent.
As believers, we must fully embrace the reality of who Jesus is and why He came. Only when we fully trust in the person and work of Christ can we truly reclaim Christmas. My prayer this Christmas is that many will see Jesus for who He is and put their faith in Him.
Questions to Ponder
Have you fully embraced the person and work of Christ and put your trust in Him? What is the difference between intellectual ascent and saving faith? Why did God give us His Son? Who will you share the Good News of Jesus with this Christmas?
Spend some time in prayer meditating on what God revealed to you today.