December 25, 2019
Pastor John Hering
For God so loved the world that he gave his only-begotten Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish, but have eternal life.John 3:16
For God so loved the World. I hope that everyone here this morning agrees that God so loved the world. However, there is a tension with these words. Can we see God’s love in a world where political turmoil fills the news? When domestic and foreign terrorism is alive and well? When a woman walking down the sidewalk of Manhattan was suddenly killed by falling debris? When relatives and friends are battling diseases of all kinds, when the boss walks in to say you’ve been laid off, when those we love die—can we say with confidence, For God so Loved the World? There are plenty of problems in our lives that might make us wonder, ‘Does God really love the world? Does God really love me?’ It is true that it can look like God has abandoned the world to the rule of evil. It can all appear at times that God has even abandoned you because he just doesn’t care. However, all of you sitting here this Christmas morning know that these tempting thoughts are not true. What we are here to celebrate this Christmas morning proves it. And what Jesus says in John 3 promises it.
God So Loved the World!
Who we Celebrate Proves it
Let these words sink in: God so Loved the World. And isn’t that shocking that he does? Our world is a mess. I don’t like messes, well not messes that are too messy. Truth be told I kinda like to clean up the kitchen and stand back and say, “Now, that looks nice!” I like to wash my truck, vacuum it out, fill up the tank, change the oil and gain satisfaction from a job well done. But, big messes like a broken world?!! A man walks randomly down the street shooting a gun makes a mess of his life. The hate you see between people whether racist, civil rights, traffic, snoring, morning alarms, cold pizza or dentists. The hurt caused by pushing others away from you. Making it your hobby to purposely make life miserable for others. Then there is lying, cheating, stealing, jealousy, arrogance and injustice everywhere. And God loved this!
Jesus says, ‘Yes!’ God so loved the world and that world includes you! Shocking, isn’t it? Shocking because of who we really are. It is easy for me to love someone has an outer physical appearance that I desire, and if the person I love, loves me back. If that person is similar to me in believes, if they fulfill my need for companionship, and if they like to spend time with me, it’s easy for me to love them. If they are 100% committed to me, I can easily love them! So, tell me, why should God love you? Because you are the perfect created specimen of a human being without flaws or flab? No! Because you love to spend intimate time with God by reading his Word, praying and communicating with him? No! Because you think that somehow your time of wit and charm spent with God could in any possible way provide the committed companionship God is looking for? Hardly! Because you are so lovable? No, However, Jesus’ answer is this: even if no one else loves you, God does.
But, how can you know for sure? People say, ‘I love you’ all the time. Talk is cheap. Just because someone says they love doesn’t guarantee they actually do love you. So, how can you be sure God loves you? Because of what God did! “God so loved the world that he gave!” What did God give? A new car? A new house on the lake? A million dollars? “For God so loved the world that he gave his only-begotten Son.” Imagine you had a child in the hospital recovering from an illness. A doctor comes into your room and tells you there is another child down the way that is dying. But, that child could live if you were willing to give your child’s heart to the other child. It would mean, of course, that your child would die! Who would agree to such a thing? Who would be willing to give such a sacrifice? Listen: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only-begotten Son” for you!
Your God gave His Son! That is who we are celebrating this Christmas Day! Your being here to celebrate, God’s Son given to you because he so loved you, proves it. God so loved you. God did it. And today through the pages of Scripture you know for sure God so Loved the World because
What Jesus Says Promises it
That little baby we see in the manger is God’s great gift to you. That little baby isn’t wrapped in Christmas paper, but in swaddling clothes. That little baby is not placed under a tree, but into a humble manger. That little baby is the greatest gift you could ever receive. No matter what gifts you unwrapped last night, or this morning, or this afternoon, it will not compare. Why? Because that little baby did for you what you could never do for yourself.
That little baby grew up and lived the perfect life you could never live. He willingly went from that little manger to the cross where he paid the penalty of your sin and mine. Because God gave you the gift of Jesus he looks at you and is able to say, “I forgive you. I no longer hold your sins against you.”
How can you know for sure? Because Jesus said it. He said it many times and in many ways.
- “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly” (John 10:10).
- “The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Matt 20:28).
- “And I lay down my life for the sheep” (John 10:15).
- “For God so loved the world that he gave his only-begotten Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish, but have eternal life”
Jesus says that through faith the eternal life he won for us on the cross is ours. What could be better? What could be better than knowing that, when you leave this life, God will welcome you into his heavenly kingdom? What could be better than spending forever in a place without the pain and suffering and sadness and sickness of this place? We know and believe for sure because For God so loved the world.
For God so loved the world! There is tension in these words. For many people the peace and comfort we are enjoying right now, during Christmas, during this favorite time of the year, for many this will pass in short order when we get back to our busy lives. So, if Christmas was nothing more than being nice to people, helping people with a hand up, or just a time of parties and presents, then Christmas doesn’t have much to offer when we go back to our daily lives. But, today, we have been assured that Christmas is so much more. It is the celebration of Jesus’ birth. It is proof of God’s love for you. God’s people celebrate this gift. God’s people rely on his promises. So, kneel beside the manger and rejoice in God’s greatest gift to you and you’ll have a merry Christmas all year long. Amen!