Summary: God’s amazing love is sown to us through the incarnation, the cross and the Holy Spirit
God Stories – Attributes of God
The Love of God
John 3:16, Rev 12
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.”
John 3:16 has almost become a throw away verse for people who have grown up in the evangelical church. Most of us can rattle it off like it is our phone number, and yet I don’t think that we will ever quite grasp the depth of meaning in this verse, the profundity of this action the immensity of this love that God has for us.
For God so loved the world that he sent his only Son…
If we pay any attention to this verse we often have dreams of a pristine, sanitized stable…No morning sickness, no labor pains (no crying he makes), halos around everyone’s heads., sweet smelling straw in a beautiful well crafted manger – as the Black Peter character says in 2000 Candles “we’re missing the point, the point is it is a step down.”
The God of the whole universe steps down and puts on human skin, flesh and bones. He doesn’t just drop out of the sky as a fully grown sinless man, but comes as a helpless baby – completely dependant on his mother and father for all that he needs – a teenage mother, and her carpenter husband who is too poor to find a place to stay in Bethlehem – the king of the universe has to be born in a barn. That was Bethlehem, if it was Toronto, he would have been born under the Gardner expressway where the bridges offer small shelter for the homeless people living there
When I walk the kids to School, there is a little patch of asphalt on the sidewalk right at the corner where we cross the street. The kids love to race to it – they don’t race each other, they race me, and they always beat me. Nicholas loves it the most. I hate it – not because they always beat me, but because there is a hedge there that I can’t see around and for a brief second, my Nicholas is out of my sight. I hate having my kids out of my sight.
At Nicholas’ nursery school, they’ve instituted a new policy of not bringing you kids right into the classroom, but giving them to the teacher at the front door. Nicholas and I had this great ritual of entering the class, hanging up his coat, getting the toy that he wants to show Doris out of his bag and then giving each other a big hug and kiss good bye as he goes to join the other kids. He knows he is safe and so do I. But now, I have to hand him off to someone else at the door. Nicholas was very unsure of this new ritual – and so was I – although the new policy is supposed to increase safety in the school, it doesn’t feel safer – the safest place for Nicholas is in my arms!
Jesus leaves the arms of his Father and enters, not the safety of nursery school, but he becomes a baby without a home in a land where the king wants to kill him, born to a young couple who can barely support themselves not to mention this baby with a price on its head.
For God so loved the world that he sent his only Son…to leave the splendor, majesty and intimacy of heaven, to be born worse off than the rest of us, without a home and without a hope of surviving the king’s death squads.
That is the physical reality of the incarnation – the spiritual is worse.
This is how John describes the birth in Revelations 12
“1A great and wondrous sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet and a crown of twelve stars on her head. 2She was pregnant and cried out in pain as she was about to give birth. 3Then another sign appeared in heaven: an enormous red dragon with seven heads and ten horns and seven crowns on his heads. 4His tail swept a third of the stars out of the sky and flung them to the earth. The dragon stood in front of the woman who was about to give birth, so that he might devour her child the moment it was born. 5She gave birth to a son, a male child, who will rule all the nations with an iron scepter. And her child was snatched up to God and to his throne. 6The woman fled into the desert to a place prepared for her by God, where she might be taken care of for 1,260 days.”