Summary: This sermon is about one of the favorite verses in the Bible, John 3:16.
Christmas Eve Sermon
Bruce B. Miller
Merry Christmas! Welcome. Tonight you are going to hear about one of the most famous verses in the Bible. This verse gives the meaning of Christmas in one sentence. Let me tell you the story of where the verse came from.
He was a highly respected man, a leader in the community. As a religious man, he was worried about his reputation among his friends. He did not want to meet in a time and place when other people might see them. So he set the appointment at night in a private place where they could talk confidentially. While he respected the man he would meet, he had a lot of questions and needed to see God’s love. The Bible records the conversation in John chapter 3.
Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a member of the Jewish ruling council. 2 He came to Jesus at night and said, Rabbi, we know you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the miraculous signs you are doing if God were not with him. John 3:1-2
Nicodemus sees Jesus as a good religious teacher and is amazed at the miracles he must have seen. Jesus’ reply startled Nicodemus; Jesus had a way of doing that:
3 In reply Jesus declared, I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again. John 3:3.
In the conversation, Nicodemus asked how in the world anyone could reenter their mother’s womb especially an old man like me! It is in this conversation that Jesus speaks one of the most famous verses in the Bible. John 3:16:
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.
Brilliantly Jesus summarizes Christmas in one verse; all at once simple enough for children to understand and more profound than the most advanced scholar. Who can fully understand God’s love?
God so Loved the World
It is limitless, grand, unconditional, beyond any love you and I have ever known on a human plane. Paul prays that we might be able to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge. Ephesians 3:18-19. Pray now silently that God might grow your understanding of his infinite love. His love embraces all people, no matter who you are or what you have done.
Jesus provides salvation for the world. Some people miss the truth of God’s love because they see God as a harsh judge waiting to be appeased. God the Father took the initiative in his love to send Jesus, his son. God is the loving Father who wants his wandering children to come home. God loves you so much that that he gave his one and only Son.
God gave his beloved Son. What God has done for us I cannot fathom. Some ask, Why did Jesus Christ have to pay that penalty: what kind of perverse justice is there in having an innocent bystander suffer instead of me? How is this different from what Christ did? The answer lies in his identity. Jesus is not some reluctant bystander who God forced onto the scene as a whipping boy to take our punishment. He is actually the God we have sinned against. Christmas celebrates the coming of God to the world to save us. Love came to us.
When we consider who we are, his love is even more amazing still. We are sinful people, that is pretty obvious. And yet he loves us. It’s not just that we are ignorant and need instruction; not just sickly and need a little doctoring; the case is far worse. We are dead. We need rebirth; life. Jesus told Nicodemus, you need to be born again. We need love, new life.
How can we find that spiritual life? John 3:16 says, that whoever believes in Him. Whoever is totally inclusive. No one is left out. You are not too smart, too sinful, too young or too old to be excluded from whoever. In his great love God brought salvation to the world, but not all will be saved. Why? People object, If God is a loving God, how could He send anyone go to hell? He does not send anyone to hell. Neither does God force anyone to go to heaven against their will. He offers salvation to everyone, but no one is saved without believing. The whoever is like a blank check or a deed; it needs our counter signature of faith. You receive God’s salvation by writing your name by faith. We receive God’s salvation by believing in Jesus Christ. What does that mean? What is faith?