“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.“ John 3:16
There are many inexplicable phenomena in nature. For instance there is something called Quantum Superposition. Scientists at Stanford University have found that a single atom can be found simultaneously in two different places, as far as 2 feet apart! They call it “spooky action”. Sound strange? As another example, it has been shown that when something travels extremely fast in relation to another identical object, time actually slows down for the speedy thing. We are not talking about clocks, but we are talking about time itself. Sound strange? These are indeed, beyond our imagination!
If the nature of atoms or time can be outside our normal grasp of reality, should it surprise us that the Creator of atoms and time is outside our comprehension? Somehow there is but one God, one being, one essence, and yet there are three different persons, each person distinct from the other two, yet each person being 100% God. So we can say of God the Father: there is no other God. Of the Son of God we can say there is no other God. And of the Holy Spirit we can say there is no other God. Yet there are not three Gods, only one. From beginning to end the Bible informs us about this incomprehensible Trinitarian nature of God. Even though you will not find the word “Trinity” in the Bible, yet you will find the doctrine of the Trinity permeating Scripture. It is only with this doctrine of the Holy Trinity that we can begin to realize the identity of Jesus, as well as God’s work for our salvation.
God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son. To give an idea of the breadth of meaning in this text, the Greek here translated by the ESV as “only” (μονογενῆ ) can be translated “unique” “one and only” “only begotten”. In the first chapter of his Gospel, the Apostle John already had explained this “only” Son of God by using the same Greek word, which we here translate as “one and only”: And the Word [Word is here a title for the Son of God] became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the one and only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth [1:14]. In this verse John explains this one and only Son became flesh; He became one of us. Then four verses later John was inspired to write: No one has ever seen God; the one and only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known [v 18]. Do you want to begin to understand God the Father? The one and only God (God’s Son), who became flesh, has made him known.
God the Father gave His one and only Son (3:16); He gave Him to be made flesh, but the Son did not become flesh simply to visit or teach us. Our flesh is fallen and because of this each of us is on the road to death, both physical death and eternal death. God sent His one and only Son to undo our death. Jesus explained it this way: And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up [3:14]. The one and only Son became flesh so He could and would be lifted up as a man upon the cross. There He would pay for sin and swallow up death for all mankind. His death is for everyone because it is not the death of a mere man, but of the one and only God who became flesh!
In John 3, Jesus further identifies a necessary part of our salvation: …whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life [16b]. To be saved we must believe in Jesus. But our flesh is corrupted by sin, and we are born unable to believe in God our Savior. Thanks be to the Father and the Son that they sent forth the third person of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit, who enables us to believe in the Savior. Thus the Holy Spirit must regenerate us, and of this Jesus explains to Nicodemus, Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God [v 5]. In the water of Holy Baptism—appropriately bestowed in the Name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit—we are by the Spirit’s power reborn and empowered to believe in Jesus. Incomprehensible? Should this surprise us?