God so loved the world that he gave his only Son,
so that everyone who believes in him might not perish
but might have eternal life.
For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world,
but that the world might be saved through him.
Whoever believes in him will not be condemned,
but whoever does not believe has already been condemned,
because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.
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This Sunday’s Gospel comes from Jesus’s conversation with Nicodemus. Nicodemus came to Jesus at night and asked him about what it means to be born again. In Jesus’ response, he says one of the most iconic verses in the Bible. John 3:16 is widely quoted to show God’s love for us and to profess Jesus as our Savior. This verse reminds us that God sent Jesus into the world out of love so that we might gain eternal life through him. I like to think of John 3:16 as the Gospel in a nutshell because it’s a beautiful and succinct way of describing Jesus’ ministry and our hope for eternal life. While it may begin as a “feel-good” Gospel, this reading ends with a slight sting. Jesus’ mission wasn’t to condemn the world, but we condemn ourselves if we don’t believe in him. When I reflect on this Sunday’s Gospel, I think of John 14:6, which reads “No one comes to the Father except through me.” It isn’t enough just to know that Jesus is our Savior. We have to turn to him and believe in him with our whole hearts. Believing that he’s the only way to the Father and eternal life with him, we can place our restless hearts in Jesus and share in his unconditional, everlasting love.
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