16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
Many people who do not believe in the Gospel of Jesus will recognize this verse. John, chapter 3, verse 16 is forever engrained into our midwest American and Bible Belt minds. This is a truth that we may know informationally but many of us have trouble believing it from the depths of our hearts. I grew up in the church pews singing Jesus Loves Me and Jesus Loves the Little Children and Love Lifted Me. And yet I didn’t really get a true grasp of that love until many years later and I still have much to understand about this love.
A love like Jesus’ is hard to understand. It is. Think about it. Our first reaction to that person that still uses coupons and checks at the checkout is one filled with anger and even rage that our precious 10 minutes is being taken from us and spent contrary to our wants. Our We generally live for “us” so our knee-jerk reaction is typically one that doesn’t reflect this love. Sure, we might understand the love of Jesus on the surface or on an intellectual level, but we still have that nagging, “what the heck was he really thinking?” in the back of our minds at times. I mean, he made us so we would enjoy and love him, we spat in his face and claimed to be gods, then the logical next step is to put divinity on pause per se and come die a murderous brutal death as a sacrifice for our rebellion against him?! He’s God after all.
I can’t count the amount of times I’ve heard people talk about how they would’ve reacted to being God and being nailed to that cross. The fact is the “smite” button would be like the Office Depot easy button as we systematically annihilated the bad guys like a level in Call of Duty. Carnage would be all that was left in our wake.
But not Jesus. This love is really the perfect example of true love. I mean, is love that depends on how you treat me really love at all? I’d call that love for looks, maybe. But true, raw, “I’d give my life for you even if you hate me” love…now that’s love.
The very next verse says that Jesus didn’t come to condemn us but to love us by saving us. The crazy thing is that, as the perfectly righteous and entirely holy God of the universe, by which we were created, he had every right to condemn us. He could’ve come down swinging and burned every human at the stake and he would’ve been right to do so. That’s hard to swallow for us. Mainly because we seem to think we’re the top of the food chain…and in reality…we’re not. But that’s another blog.
The fact is, Jesus’ love is truly beyond us. It’s really something we can describe somewhat and we can mimic as he gives us power to do so, but since we are not perfect, holy, righteous, and almighty, we’ll never be able to truly understand the magnitude of the sacrifice of Jesus.
This is love.
This love is something that we celebrate during this time of year. Christmas is a celebration of the coming of Jesus, not to condemn us, but to save us. It’s a joyous celebration of his love. We take this time every year to remember the love of God and to react to the love of God.
19 And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil.
Countless people all across the Earth do not have “ears to hear”. Gospel has been proclaimed for thousands of years now and still the hearts of so many are evil and twisted. Many have heard this message and still love the “darkness” and not the light. It is the job of God himself to convert, redeem, and change hearts and minds. But your role is emphatically important. Jesus said that unbelievers would know we were followers of Jesus by how we love them and one another. This means that the way you love other believers, and those who aren’t there yet, is the equivalent of you telling and showing the world, “This is what God is like.”
So, as you wrap your final gifts, send your last bit of cards, and pack for that weekend at Nana and Papa’s, remember to dwell in and celebrate the unexplainable, scandalous, glorious love of Jesus. Let it create Hope, Peace, and Joy in your heart that overflows in your actions and conversations this Christmas weekend!