Printable PDF: 12-24-2019 Christmas Eve Sermon
Pastor David R. Clark ~ Christmas Eve candlelight ~ December 24, 2019 ~ John 3:16
God so Loved the World
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.
Dear friends in Christ,
John 3:16 is probably the most familiar passage in the Bible. Some might say it’s the 23rd Psalm (The Lord is my Shepherd…). Others might say it’s the account in Luke 2 that you just read through (Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you); even Charlie Brown knows that passage. But I still think John 3:16 is more familiar. It’s the only Bible reference I know of that keeps showing up on my TV screen when someone is kicking an extra point or a field goal.
Whether it is or isn’t, probably isn’t all that important. But the message it preaches certainly is. It fills a need, proclaims a truth that we need to hear over and over again. It answers a couple of critical questions.
- Does God really love?
Every time there is a tragedy someone asks, “Does God really love?” It doesn’t matter whether it’s a tsunami or a flood or a hurricane. It could be a drowning or cancer or a mass shooting. The same question gets posed.
I remember someone from the entertainment industry being interviewed after such a tragedy and asked if they thought God was a loving god. His answer was, “If he is, he’s not doing a very good job.” (Geddy Lee, lead singer of the band Rush).
There is a part of each of us that does that. When something bad happens we want to blame. You can blame guns or other people, but ultimately it gets down to blaming God. It’s a natural human emotion…actually a natural sinful human reaction. We want to define love, and when God doesn’t do what we want him to do, it’s because he’s not doing a very good job. Adam did it in the Garden of Eden, and people have been doing it ever since. And every time it happens, Satan chuckles with delight. What better way to drive people away from God than to blame him for the evil that Satan brought into the world. For us to blame God for tragedy is like having an adult smoker blaming lung cancer on their parents for not loving them enough. It’s all a blame game.
So let’s set the record straight. God does love because God is love. How do you know? God is the solution to evil in this world. He didn’t send an angel or a prophet. He didn’t send a miracle from his high perch in heaven. He came himself in the form of a human child. To show you how much he loves you, he submitted himself to the human birth process and was raised as a human child. You know all of the temptations you are going through and went through as a teenager? He did, too. God loves so much he sent Jesus; the very reason we are here tonight.
- Does God really love me?
Which leads us to the second critical question; “Does God really love ME?” Some people will say, “Well, it’s nice that he sent Jesus for all those people who are in church every Sunday. But I’ve only been in church for weddings and funerals. –or– “This is only the second time I’ve been in church all year.” –or– “I’ve never been to church before tonight. God can’t be happy with that kind of performance, so how can you say he loves me?”
That’s a really good question, and I admit I’ve fumbled my way through answers to it for years. I’m in church pretty often, since it’s the vocation God chose for me. But my conscience barks at me about other things. “Why aren’t there more people in church? Why didn’t you give better advice? People are lost, and that’s the best you can do?” It’s not just someone who is not in church regularly that struggles with this question.
That’s why listening to God rather than a guilt ridden conscience is so important. This is what God says; God so loved the world…” God didn’t do this for a few good people or the people from long ago or just for little children. God loves YOU! He sent Jesus for YOU! And his whole plan to show that love really began when he sent Jesus as a human, but divine, baby.
Everybody loves little children. We love their beauty and their innocence. But this child loves YOU. You can see that in his birth. You can see that in every step he took as a child, as a teenager, and as an adult. Every step he took was another step of love for you. It looked like those steps were going to end on a cross and in a grave – but they didn’t. They continued, glorified, after he rose. Those steps lead you right to heaven. Why? 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.
A blessed Christmas to all of you. God loves you. Amen.