The Love that Christmas Gave
“For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16
1. “God Loved”
“For this is how God loved…”
- God is Love, Christmas is the greatest expression of that Love!
- There is no reason to think that Jesus means any other God than the God of the Old Testament. He is the all-powerful Creator and Sustainer of the universe. He is personal and not a mere force, meaning he thinks and wills and feels. He loves, and he hates. And as personal, he is moral — that is, he deals with us in terms of right and wrong and good and bad. And as moral, he is unwaveringly righteous. He only does what is right. And the infinite worth of what he is defines what is right. To do right is to think and feel and act in a way that is in harmony with God.
“Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God. Anyone who loves is a child of God and knows God. But anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love.” 1 John 4:7-8
- All of us were made by this God, and our first and highest duty and reason for being is to honor him and give him thanks (Romans 1:21)
- We have all failed, and we are all under his righteous displeasure. This is what makes John 3:16 so needed and so precious this Christmas and every other day of the year. It describes the way God is acting to rescue us from this condition.
2. “the World”
“For this is how God loved the world…”
a. The Most Common Meaning for ‘World’ in John is the Created and Fallen totality of Humankind.
“The world can’t hate you, but it does hate me because I accuse it of doing evil…“He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth. The world cannot receive him, because it isn’t looking for him and doesn’t recognize him.” John 7:7 & 14:17
- That is the way John is using World here. It is the great mass of fallen humanity that is Loved by God!. It’s the countless number of perishing people from whom “Everyone” comes in the second part of the verse: “Everyone who believes in him will not perish.”
3. “He Gave”
“God loved the world: He gave…”
- God had been talking about this Gift for us for around 2700 years!
“The Lord himself will give you the sign. Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son and will call him Immanuel (which means ‘God is with us’).” Isaiah 7:14 (739BC)
- He Gave Gifts to Everyone…everything that is “good and perfect”!!!
“Whatever is good and perfect is a Gift coming down to us from God our Father.” James 1:17
- He Gave Gifts that are Not Always Easy…God never says you won’t go through the Valleys
But we never have to go through the valleys alone:
- So it’s Dark, Stormy, Troubling and we are Weak…
- Remember…He’s your Light in Darkness, He’s your Peace in the Storm and He’s your Joy in the Trouble!
- Jesus Summarizes his Giving in John 10:17–18,
“The Father loves me because I sacrifice my life so I may take it back again. No one can take my life from me. I sacrifice it voluntarily. For I have the authority to lay it down when I want to and also to take it up again. For this is what my Father has commanded.”
Two things more need to be said about giving.
1. One is that it is a giving from heaven.
2. It is a giving, not just to come to earth, but to Die.
“No one can take my life from me. I sacrifice it voluntarily”
So when John 3:16 says, “For this is how God loved the world: He gave…”,” the giving is God sending his Son to earth on a mission to die. It’s just as amazing — only a million times more so — as if you should say to your son, “There is something I want you to do for me: I have some enemies that deserve to perish, and I want you to go and die in their place, so that they can have eternal life.” Whatever else you know about God, make sure you know he is like that.
4. “His One and Only Son”
“He gave his one and only Son. . .”
- Let me say a Few Things that are Crystal Clear in John’s Gospel, even though Mysterious…
“In the beginning the Word already existed.The Word was with God, and the Word was God.” John 1:1
So here we are introduced to the Word. And we are told three things about him.
First, the Word of God referred is the Son of God.
Second, God, with whom the Word was, and from whom he is distinct, is God the Father. He is “the only Son from the Father.”
Third, therefore, Jesus is the Son of God, He is Fully God…
Then look at verse 14: “So the Word became human, and made his home among us. (“Merry Christmas”) He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son.”
First, the Word of God referred in verse 1 is the Son of God. “The Word became flesh and . . . we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son. . . .”
Second, God, with whom the Word was, and from whom he is distinct, is God the Father. He is “the only Son from the Father.” “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God.” He was with God the Father.
Third, therefore, Jesus is the Son of God not because the Father had sex with Mary, but because the Son has always existed, without beginning, as “the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature” (Hebrews 1:3). He is fully God. And the Father is fully God. And along with God the Spirit, they are one God, one divine nature. One essence and three persons in an eternal, perfect, joyful relationship.
5. “believes in him”
“so that everyone who believes in Him…”
Two observations about this believing.
First, it means that not everybody will benefit from what Jesus came to do. But “everyone who believes in him will not perish” The rest will perish — and not have eternal life.
Second, the word itself means to Embrace something as true; and when it’s a person, it means to trust them to be what they are and do what they say.
“This is the only work God wants from you: Believe in the one he has sent.”- Jesus (John 6:29)
ALSO, John 1:11–12 shows that another word John has in mind to explain believe is receive. “He came to his own people, and even they rejected him. But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God.”
- So receiving Jesus and believing Jesus explain each other.
6. “Will Not Perish”
“everyone who believes in him will not perish…”
- What’s most clear and most important is to see that perish is the opposite to Eternal life — “not perish but have eternal life.” So if you perish, you don’t get eternal life.
Another thing that’s clear here is that verse 18 describes perishing as being condemned. “Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already.” And that means that God’s judicial sentence of wrath is on us as sinners and remains on us.
We see this in John 3:36: “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.” So we are already under condemnation because of our sin and unbelief. And perishing means staying there forever under God’s wrath. There is nothing you can imagine worse than having the omnipotent God oppose you with righteous wrath forever. That’s what perishing means.
- There is nothing you can imagine worse than separation from God forever…everything that is Good will be Gone!!
- Separated from God is to be forever shut off from His light (1Jn 1:5), love (1Jn 4:8), joy (Mat 25:23), peace (Eph 2:14), etc.
7. “Eternal Life”
“who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.”
? This does not simply mean you exist forever. Everybody exists forever. But not everybody has eternal life.
This life is…
First, that we are born again and have spiritual life. We know from John 6:63 that “The Spirit alone gives eternal life.” And we know from 1 John 5:11 that “this life is in His Son.” This is life to God — life that can see and savor God as glorious and all his creation the way he meant it to be enjoyed.
Second, when we believe, the Holy Spirit unites us to Christ in whom is life.
Third, in that instant, we are born again, we believe, we are united with the Son of God, and we have his life.
This is, Eternal life is…life of the Son of God and it lasts forever!
“I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying. Everyone who lives in me and believes in me will never ever die.” John 11:25–26