Click HERE for an audio version of this message.
Everyone loves Santa, but did you ever notice that Santa is not very loving? He checks his list, not just once, but twice, to see if you were naughty or nice, and if you were naughty you might get a lump of coal in your stocking, or maybe nothing at all! According to the song at least, Santa doesn’t give gifts on the basis of love. He gives gifts on the basis of works.
John 3:16 reminds us that the way that God gives, and the gift that he gives, is better by far!
God gives us his gifts on the basis of love. And what great love he has! Who can fathom the great depth of his love?
Think of it in this way. Let’s say you get a huge Lego set for Christmas. You spend hours putting it together. Just as you sit back to admire it your little brother or sister comes running through the room and smashes it to pieces. How do you feel? Do you feel love? Not likely.
Now think about God. He spent six days creating everything that exists. He created a beautiful garden with all kinds of fruit trees that produced the best fruit anyone has ever tasted. He created Adam and Eve and gave everything he had made to them as a gift to enjoy. On the seventh day he sat back and looked everything over and it was perfect.
But then, Satan entered the scene and Adam and Eve chose to listen to him who had done nothing for them instead of God who had done everything for them. As a result, God’s perfect creation became a complete mess. Because of Adam and Eve’s disobedience there would now be weeds and thorns and thistles, there would be pain and sickness, and everything, including people, would have an expiration date, fruit would decay, and people would die. That’s worse than your little brother or sister smashing your Lego. So, did God feel love?
If you were God what would you have felt? What would you have done? Certainly, at the very least, we would be tempted to wipe out everything and start over. We would be tempted to do what a potter does when the beautiful vase he is making has a flaw. He takes the clay, mashes it back into a ball, and starts over. But, in order to do that, God would have had to consign Adam and Eve to an eternity of suffering in Hell with Satan.
Instead of destroying everything and starting over, which he would have been completely justified in doing, God acted in love. God SO loved the world that he gave Adam and Eve a promise through which they and all their descendants could be saved. He promised to send a Savoir, the seed of a woman, who would crush the serpent’s head, who would destroy the devil’s work.
Since that promise was given, think about how people in the world, including each of us, have treated God and his promise. Not only have people denied the existence of God and laughed at the idea that the seed of the woman meant a Virgin Birth, but even those who believe have often relegated God and his promise to the back seat. Work, and family, and sports, and entertainment have all taken a place ahead of God and his promise. It’s like giving someone a fantastic, very expensive gift only to have them thank everyone else but you for the gift you gave them! Should God feel love for us when we relegate him to the back seat of our hearts and thank everyone but him for the gifts he gives us?
We know what the answer should be. We know the answer we would give if we were God. But, what does Scripture say? God so loved the world, the whole world of people like you and me who often ignore him, or relegate him to last place in our thoughts, or who give the credit he deserves for all that he has given us to someone or something else, other than him. That’s the world God loves. In fact, he loves us so much that he doesn’t just say it, he shows it. God so loved the world of people who, at best fail to give him the glory he deserves and at worst hate him, that he gave his one and only Son.
God so loved the world of people who, at best fail to give him the glory he deserves and at worst hate him, that he chose to take on flesh and blood, experience pain and temptation, and even physical death. He chose to come into the world that we, descendants of sinful Adam and Eve, continue to mess up, so that he could save us from a fate worse than death- eternal life without him or any of his blessings.
Because Jesus was born of a Virgin, because he lived without sin, because he offered himself as the unblemished sacrifice to God, he is the Lamb of God who has taken away the sin of the world. Salvation his been won, the serpent’s head has been crushed, and God offers salvation for free to all. He promises that whoever believes in Jesus has, as a free gift of his love, eternal life.
Jesus has purchased a gift for you that’s better than anything you could ever get for Christmas. He has purchased you a place in heaven that lasts forever. He doesn’t condition his giving of this gift on whether you are naughty or nice. If he did, no one would get this wonderful gift because in his eyes, everyone is naughty, everyone is sinful. His gift has been purchased for the whole world, and that includes you.
God so loved you, in spite of your sins, that he gave his one and only son, the one gift that you really needed and couldn’t get anywhere else or from anyone else, so that you have eternal life in him. Make sure you thank him. Make sure he is not relegated to the back seat of your heart and mind. He loves you more than anyone else could. He has given you the best gift you will ever receive- the gift of forgiveness and eternal life.