BY MARTIN LUTHER
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” -John 3:16-17
This is one of the best and most glorious Gospel lessons, such as John particularly wrote. It is worthy to be written in golden letters, not upon paper, but if possible upon the heart; it ought to be made the daily lesson and meditation of Christians, who should repeat it to strengthen their faith and awaken their hearts to prayer. The words make the sad joyful and the dead alive.
It also gives instruction on the chief article of Christian faith, on the glory and liberty of Christians, whereby sin, the Law, God’s wrath, death and hell are banished from believers and abolished. All human wisdom, righteousness and holiness are made futile in that which belongs to God’s kingdom. Death, the devil, the terror of the Law, must be banished forever, our merit and worthiness doing nothing to that end.
The excellent, great, eternal and divine treasure is portrayed here, which we should possess so as to be without fear before the judgment and condemnation of human nature through Adam’s fall, and instead have salvation and victory, and every blessing. All this is offered and bestowed out of pure grace and represented only as a gift that can be secured solely through faith.
In vivid and significant words, the evangelist briefly sketches this grace and gift in Christ, that he may magnify it — the giver, the recipient, the gift, its fruits and benefits. All is so eloquently great that it is indescribable, and it is difficult to believe only because of its greatness.