Summary: Exposition of John 3 regarding the sending of God’s Son on Christmas was part of one of the greatest displays of the immeasurable love of God ever.
Text: John 3:16, Title: Love Displayed, Date/Place: NRBC, Christmas Eve 2011
A. Opening illustration: I had a Greek professor in seminary who was a great help to me. He taught us how to love our wives. He wrote “The Myth of Adolescence” and taught us how to love our children. He challenged us to think on our own. I came in one day as I was wrestling through the constitution and bylaws of what would be our church plant in Maine. I had written a paper in his class specifically on the issue of whether the “husband of one wife” meant “never having been divorced” or not. And that had not helped sufficiently. And I felt like I was under the gun, because we were leaving soon, and I wanted constitution in hand in a finished form. And so I made an appt with him to talk to him about it. So I explained my dilemma, and ask him what he thought, expecting him to give me the answer. He didn’t. He asked me what the core group wanted. I told him it didn’t matter, that this was a biblical matter. And he said that it did, because this would be their constitution. And he refused to tell me the answer, telling me that I should examine what the text says, instead of what commentators and professors say. Thus my journey on this issue, didn’t cease, but only furthered. But this is the definition of love that he gave our class of the Greek word “agapao,” he said that it was “unconditional, self-sacrificing, highly-valuing” display affection for another in action.
B. Background to passage: He is having a discussion with Nicodemus about being born again. And he is explaining about the Son of Man/God coming and offering salvation to all who believe on Him.
C. Main thought: the sending of God’s Son on Christmas was part of one of the greatest displays of the immeasurable love of God ever
1. God loved the world unconditionally. There were not prerequisites that the world had to fulfill to earn the love of God. It didn’t have to be good enough. It didn’t have to offer enough. It didn’t have to demonstrate enough devotion. In fact, the awe-inspiring part of this facet of His love is that the world was just the opposite of these conditions. It was wicked, not good; it was God-ignoring, not generous and God-conscious; it was devoted only to self, rather than to loving God. One of the emphases in this text in on the badness of the world. And yet God loved them anyway! How do we know? He gave us His son! That is the part that makes us admire God, because it is so unlike us. He gave His best to people who spurned every facet of who He is.
2. Rom 5:8, 8:1, Eph 1:4-7,
3. Illustration: Santa may operate on performance, but Jesus operates on grace! Ruth Bell Graham is said to have made the statement when asked if she had ever considered divorce, “Divorce, no. Homicide, yes.”
4. And this is such a freeing concept on religion. You don’t have to earn God’s love. He doesn’t love you less when you are bad, and more when you are good. In fact, you can’t earn His love. He just loves you, and nothing that you will ever do will change that. So don’t live under guilt. For there is no condemnation for those in Christ! Don’t serve under guilt. Don’t attend under guilt. The freeing aspect is that you don’t have to do things for His approval. You already have His approval, and so you can live for Him, serve Him, pray to Him from approval not toward it. What a model for us…What relationships would be altered if we treated others the same way?
1. God loved the world in a self-sacrificing manner. He gave His own Son. He sent Him to walk in our broken world. He sacrificed perfect, sweet, divine, inter-trinitarian fellowship. He gave to us the most precious thing to Him. Christ sacrificed His position in heaven. He sacrificed all the absolute self-sufficient powers that would allow Him never to get tired, hungry, thirsty, or in pain. He sacrificed his comfort, his life, his fellowship with God. From a human level He sacrificed all things to save us.
3. Illustration: how many parents have sacrificed for their children, wives for husbands and vise versa,
4. To be free from self-serving desires would be heaven. The Father has demonstrated it for us. And how admirable, how desirous, how loving and merciful does that make Him in our eyes. Sometimes we must simply meditate on how God loves us. Let this drive us to deeper affection for Him. Yes, who He is, but what He has done, demos that for us. Again, how would our relationships change if we sought to set aside that which would please us, to meet others needs. Or better yet, what if our pleasure was to sacrifice because our pleasure is to please Christ, and our highest joy would be found in the greatest treasure.