Summary: This is the final sermon in a series that examines some of the overlooked gifts that God gave us that first Christmas. This message shows that God gave a gift that first Christmas for each and every person.
Most of us have a person in our lives that is impossible to buy for. The question that plagues many of us during the season is, “What do you get the person that has everything?” The answer is, “a gift card.” A recent New York Times article looked at the gift card industry. More than $80 billion is spent on gift cards each year. However, this was not the most surprising part of the article. The most surprising part of the article is that around $8 billion worth of gift cards will never be redeemed. Consumer Reports estimates that 19 percent of gift card recipients will never use them. For the merchant, at least, the gift card is a wonderful invention. Just think of it: In the weeks leading up to Christmas, millions of people visit your store or Web site and hand you billions of dollars in exchange for nothing more than a plastic I.O.U. that may never even be redeemed. My question is this, “What good is a gift that is never used?” Our text is one of the most familiar passages of Scripture. In fact this has been seen as the most quoted passage of Scripture since about the sixth century. However surprisingly it is often overlooked during the Christmas season. No passage of Scripture more clearly explains the significance of Christmas as does John 3:16-17. To a world full of people that seem to have everything God has given the perfect gift. Unfortunately, like many gift cards people fail to redeem this great gift that God has given them. Today, I would like to look at this familiar passage of Scripture through a set of fresh lenses. Hopefully, we will see why Jesus is the perfect gift for each and every person.
I. God gave mankind a gift that met its deepest need.
A. We are often in the habit of overlooking our greatest need.
1. If asked this question, “What is your greatest need?” How many of you would have sin as your first thought?
2. The vast majority of us would answer this question according to what our own set of perceived needs were. These needs usually fall into two main categories.
3. Paul in Romans 3 clearly shows that “sin” is a problem that each and every person struggles with.
4. Our text shows that God was bent on doing something to redeem His creation from the great plague of sin.
B. God realized that mankind’s greatest need was a way to deal with the problem of sin.
1. If you read the entire New Testament you will quickly discover that because of sin man is in a hopeless state without God’s intervention.
2. Our text reminds us that salvation does not originate with us. The text clearly spells out that God is the initiator and provider of salvation.
3. God’s purpose in sending His Son was not to destroy the world or all of humanity.
4. God realized that for the sin problem to be solved it would require a drastic and costly method.
5. When God sent His son He built a bridge to bring as back to Him across the great canyon that sin had formed.
6. Contrary to what was taught by Marcion and other Gnostics, God is not self centered, angry and unforgiving.
II. God gave mankind a gift that met its deepest desire.
A. People in our world constantly search for love and a sense that they matter to someone.
1. Last year the United States generated $957 million in revenue from online dating services.
2. Many people have chosen to use AshleyMadison.com which is a site that helps those who are unhappily married hook up with someone for an extramarital affair.
3. This is all simply a symptom of the deep human need to be love and accepted. Unfortunately, people are still searching and never finding what they are looking for.
4. The great theologian Waylon Jennings summed up mankind’s plight when he wrote, “I was looking for love in all the wrong places. Looking for love in too many faces. Searching your eyes, looking for traces of what... I'm dreaming of.”
5. How many of you would love to know beyond a shadow of a doubt that you were unconditionally loved and accepted just the way you are?
B. Christmas tells every person in the world that they matter to God and that He loves them.
1. God’s love caused the salvation of the human race to become His goal.
2. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8—NIV 2011)
3. God’s love was a sacrificial love. Sacrificial love always seeks to find the most practical way to meet the needs of those who are loved.