Christmas Day 2015
God's wonderful gift.
Prayer and welcome.
Think for a moment about a gift that you have received from somebody who truly loves you. In many respects it is not about the value but it is all about the giver and their love towards you and your relationship to them. I love Christmas, the highlight for me has always been to sacrifice our needs in order to buy that special gift for our loved ones. I love to see their faces as they open what has been chosen for them. What is it about the gift? It is evidence of love, it is the cost of love and it is the result of love. That is what that day in Bethlehem was all about. Let us worship the Lord our God for the greatest gift that the world has ever received. It is not about the decorations, it is not about the celebrations, it is not about us but it is all about you Lord Jesus. We are not here to celebrate a baby in a manger we are here to remember that God the Son condescended to be born as a man and to live amongst us in order to accomplish salvation!
“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.”
These words that we all love are John's record of Jesus' discussions with the Pharisee Nicodemus. This verse is often referred to as the “gospel in a nutshell!” In other words it is the gospel in crystallized or condensed form.
It is Christmas day today and we are focussing on the gift of God so very briefly we will consider:
- The reason for giving.
- The gift given.
- The purpose of the gift.
Sing: Angels from the realms of glory.
The reason for giving:
The text tells us directly that it is God's love for the world that caused Him to give. We are prompted to go to the very beginning of time to remind ourselves that it was God who created this world out of nothing by His word alone. His assessment of the newly created world was that it was good. He finally on the 6th day of creation made man out of the dust of the earth, observe that there is a difference from the rest of creation by making man from the dust but in His own image. That very fact tells us that God made man unique.
The world that is spoken of in John 3:16 is clearly the world of humanity.
In order for us to understand the enormity of the love spoken of in our verse we must also remember that Genesis chapter 3 happened. Man disbelieved God and sinned and from that moment for the rest of the time that this world exists man is naturally separated from fellowship with God. In fact scripture refers to man as enemies of God and dead to Him.
God due to His holiness and perfection cannot accept or ignore sin. It is diametrically opposed to His character and so for Him to love sinful mankind is an amazing feat of His grace.
But that is exactly what our verse tells us, God does love the world. In fact His for us is more than simple love it is compound love or unconditional love the theologian might say.
God SO loved the world is what John records!
The world does not deserve such love but God loves anyway.
What a marvellous thought for us on this day when we celebrate the the birth of the Lord Jesus. It is good for us to remind ourselves of the great Love that God has for us. Paul in his letter to the Romans chapter 5 verse 8 tells us that God demonstrates His own love to us and that the way that He does that is in the death of Christ.
Therefore as we consider the gift of God at Christmas God's love is more clearly seen on the cross than it is in the crib.
Of course the birth of Jesus is vital but it is of necessity the road to the cross.
As we look at the nativity we need to remember that inevitability it ends up at the cross. That is why myrrh was brought as a gift to the baby Jesus it was a sign of His sacrificial death which is the demonstration of God's own love for the world.
Sing: See Him lying on a bed of straw.
The gift given:
God gave His one and only Son. The authorised version of the bible says that He gave His only begotten Son. If you recall our study of the genealogy in Matthew it was recorded that Abraham was the father of Isaac, Isaac the father of Jacob, Jacob the father of Judah etc. Until it came to Joseph who it says was the husband of Mary of whom Jesus was born. Joseph was the wife of Mary but not the father of Jesus. Joseph was His adopted father but Jesus was begotten of God by the Spirit's impregnation of Mary. Jesus was God's One and only Son, the firstborn of God! John tells us in his prologue to his gospel that Jesus was from before the creation of the world, that He was in fact the creator of all things. Graham Kendick puts it this way: “ Hands that flung stars into space to cruel nails surrendered.” John in his prologue clearly declares Jesus to be the second person of the Triune God! The amazing thing about the gift of God for the world that He so loved is that He is none other than God the Son become man!
He is God of God and Light of light.
Jesus born of Mary is God with us, He is our Immanuel! Jesus Christ born on that very morning over 2000 years ago was and always will be God with us. Of course a gift given must also be a gift received. It would be hopeless to give a gift to a loved one for them simply to say I love the wrapping so much that I will just simply adore the looks of the gift! But that is exactly what many do with Jesus. They love their pictures of Him, they love Him in a crib, they love His stories but they do not accept the true gift that He is. His name is Jesus because He saved and rescues His people from their sin. Have you received the gift of God or are you simply happy with the wrapping?
Sing: O come all you faithful.
The purpose of the gift:
The simple answer is eternal life but what does that mean? We are born in the image of God, sin has marred that image and we can no longer be united with God forever as it was intended. However the soul is eternal and will live forever. The sinful soul cannot come into the presence of God in His perfection and so will enter a place where God's wrath and judgement reign forever. We of course know that place to be hell but in our verse God offers heaven to all who will believe. The gift of God is given for this purpose.
This year two of our daughters requested tools for Christmas. They both wanted a gift with a purpose. They did not want useless trinkets but something that would be useful in their daily living.
God's gift to the world is the most useful gift ever given. It is priceless and is given simply by a loving Father to a very needy people.
God said that His gift of His Son for the world would be eternal life. All that you have to do is receive Him by faith.
Sing: Hark the herald angels sing.
Pray to close.