John 3:16 - 17
ESV - 16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 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.
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In John 3:14-15, immediately preceding the verses being asked about, Jesus said, "And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him may have eternal life.” This is a reference to Numbers 21:4-9, in which God, angered by the constant complaining of the Israelites and their continued lack of faith in Him (despite the many times that He had rescued them or met their needs during their forty years of wandering in the wilderness of Sinai following the exodus from Egypt), sent venomous serpents among the people. God instructed Moses to make a replica of one of the serpents out of bronze, and to elevate it on a pole, so that it could be seen throughout the Israelite camp. If someone was bitten by one of the serpents, they could be saved by looking at the bronze serpent mounted on the pole. This was a prophetic foreshadowing of the manner in which Jesus would be "lifted up", both in the sense of a common colloquialism referring to the practice of crucifixion (in which the person being crucified was "lifted up" from the ground by being nailed to the cross); and also in the sense of being exalted as a result of His sacrificial death and subsequent resurrection to pay for the sins of all those who would subsequently place their faith in Him (rather than in their own works) to receive eternal life from God. So, considering the context, it would seem clear that John 3:16-17 does refer to Jesus being sent to earth specifically for the purpose of dying for our sins.
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