If you’ve ever gone through the sheaf of printed material that comes with your monthly medications, you may have read the disclaimer: “This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.” The manufacturer wants you to know that they are not legally liable if their product doesn’t help you. They want you to understand what the product can’t do as well as what it can do.
We’ve just heard another disclaimer of sorts: “God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him” (John 3:17). Saint John probably included this verse so that no one could misunderstand the message that came just before it: “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son” (3:16). Saint John wants us to be absolutely clear about what Jesus came to do—and what he did not come to do.
Saint John’s disclaimer is just as necessary today as it was in the first century, because so many people have a negative view of the Gospel. They fear God, picturing him as angry and vengeful, eager to punish the slightest mistake. The possibility of hell and damnation looms so large in some peoples’ minds, that they worry about not having enough faith, or not being good enough to merit eternal life.
And so comes Saint John’s disclaimer: God didn’t send Jesus to condemn anyone. God sent his Son to save us. And not only us, but the whole world. That’s about as expansive, generous, and hope filled as you can get.