Title: Journey

Bible Book: John 3 : 16

Author: Jimmy Long

Subject: Christmas; Salvation, Greatest gift, Gift



Think back. What is the greatest Christmas gift you have every received? Maybe your mind took you back to a Christmas when you were a child, to a simple gift that brought you immense joy. Or, to a gift that you knew was a big sacrifice to give at the time.

Perhaps it was the first gift you got as a newlywed, or even the first gift given to you by your child.

There is no doubt that giving and receiving gifts is a big part of our Christmas celebration.  Scholars argue over the origin of gift-giving at Christmas.  Some point back to the Roman tradition of gift-giving around the New Year.  Others point to our giving of gifts as an outgrowth of the gifts of the magi.  Still, others trace the exchange of gifts of Victorian England.

Our focus over the course of the next few weeks will not be on the gifts we give to one another, but on the greatest gift of all – Jesus.  And, to helps us understand and appreciate that gift, let’s consider a well-known and often overlooked verse, John 3:16.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

In the first message of this new series called “Merry Christmas – from God”, we begin considering God’s gift to us, to YOU.

I. God’s Gift was Motivated by His Love

God so loved the world…Jesus wasn’t talking about the trees and streams and mountains and seas.  He was talking about the pinnacle of His creation – people – fallen and marred with sin as we are.

Jesus came as a baby because of love.  He was laid in a manger because of love.  He was despised and rejected because of love.  He was arrested and beaten because of love.  He was crucified because of love.  He rose on the third day because of love.  In spite of all we have done to ignore God and disobey God, His love never failed. That is why John later writes, “God is love”. (I John 4:8 & 16)

Paul echoes this truth in his letter to the Romans: “You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love or us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:6-8)

This leads us to the second truth:

II. God’s Gift was to Save us Through the Giving His Son

When we go out shopping for our gifts to others, it is wise to have a budget in mind. We’d love to be extravagant with every gift we give, but it is simply not practical. Our resources are limited – but God’s are not!

Moved by a deep love for His fallen creation, God gave extravagantly. He gave His one and only, only begotten Son.  The Bible refers to God’s people as “sons of God”, but Jesus is God’s Son in a unique way.  He is of the same nature as the Father so that Jesus could say, “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father” (John 14:9)

God could have chosen to start over. He could have looked at us and seen the stain of sin, hearts of rebellion, and minds that gave Him not a second thought. He could have seen it, shook His head with disgust, and literally erased us.  But, He did not.  Instead, He saved us.  He sent His Son to do for us what we could not do for ourselves. He sent Jesus to us to be born as a baby, to live as a man, to die on a cross as our Savior, and to be raised on the third day as the Lord of Life.  All so that “we shall not perish, but have eternal life”.

The final thought on God’s precious gift is this:

II. God’s Gift Must be Received

Let’s review our verse one more time:  “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

A gift given is one thing; a gift received is quite another.  You might spend an extraordinary amount of time picking out the perfect gift.  You might carefully wrap it with beautiful red and green wrapping paper and put a shiny bow on top. You might write the most thoughtful note on the card.  But a gift is given with a desire that someone will gladly and gratefully receive it.

Consider God’s gift to us: Himself.  Consider the great cost.  Consider the angelic message of His arrival. His gift was never meant to be gazed at from afar, but fully received and fully embraced.

You may enjoy the beauty of the Christmas season.  You may enjoy the lights and trees. You may enjoy the carols sung at the top of your voice.  But, have you truly received God’s gift?  Have you embraced the babe in the manger who is also a crucified Savior and risen Lord?  If not, why not?  It is why Jesus came; to be received by you and me.

God, with heart overflowing with love, gave the greatest gift this world will ever know – His Son. He gave Him so that you and I might receive Him, believe in Him, trust Him and become a child of God!

For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.  (John 3:17)

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