Pastor's Pondering


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The Underlying Message of Christmas

by Duane Mabee on December 22, 2022

As we celebrate the birth of our Savior this Christmas, I want to remind you of its underlying message by pointing you back to one of the best-known set of verses in the Bible – John 3:16-17.


Most of us know the opening phrase of John 3:16 as “For God so loved the world…”.  The words “so loved” can be taken in two ways.  Both are accurate.  Both are significant. 


The Holman Christian Standard Bible translates 3:16-17, “For God loved the world in this way: He gave His One and Only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.  For God did not send His Son into the world that He might condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.”  In other words, the way God loved you was by sending His Son so that you might be saved through faith in Him.  Though there are a myriad of ways in which God loves you, He focused His love in the act of sending His Son to redeem you.  All of the other ways God shows love for you – providing for you, healing you, giving you direction, protecting you – would be meaningless if it were not for His ultimate love in sending His Son to redeem you. 


The New Living Translation gives the other way verses 16-17 can be translated.  It says “For God loved the world so much that He gave His One and Only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.  God sent His Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through Him.”  Not only was His love for you focused in the act of sending His Son for you, its magnitude is demonstrated by the enormous cost He was willing to pay.  God loved you so much that He was willing to sacrifice the most precious being in all the universe – His Son – to redeem you. 


Knowing these two aspects of God’s love for you should do three things.  First, it should encourage you to know that He values you that much.  No matter who else does or doesn’t value you, God values you enough to send His Son for you.  You are deeply loved by God.  Second, it should humble you.  Verse 17 indicates clearly that we did not and do not deserve God’s amazing love.  If He hadn’t intervened by sending His Son, you would be condemned.  Intuitively, we know we don’t deserve God’s love.  No one but the most self-deceived thinks “I’m perfect.  There’s nothing in me worthy of condemnation.”  Third, it should cause you to cling tightly to Jesus Christ, the only avenue available for receiving the astounding love that God has for you. 


The message of Christmas is that you are loved!  Merry Christmas!