John 3:16-17 (NKJV)
16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. 17 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.
John 3:16 is probably the most famous verse in the Bible and I have read it hundreds of times. There is something special about the Bible. It is a living, breathing document. It reveals to its reader what is supposed to be revealed at any given time. This most recent reading revealed John 3:17. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. Bam! The greatest gift ever given is given to save the world.
The Gospel in its entirety is summed up in these verses. Jesus was speaking to Nicodemus (a member of the Sanhedrin and a religious leader in Israel) and explaining to him why He came into the world. It was hard for Nicodemus to comprehend at that time but God’s full plan was revealed in these verses. What was not yet clear was that Jesus would sacrifice Himself for the saving of the world. Jesus is the gift that keeps on giving.
So what does this mean to us on Christmas Eve? Can we even fathom the immensity of what is about to happen? The Savior of the world is about to appear and enter the world as a helpless baby. Are we ready? Romans 8:1 (NKJV) says There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. In light of this gift, how are we supposed to live? Are we supposed to do anything we want because it is all forgiven? Certainly not! In fact, it quite the opposite. When we are in Christ, we are a new creation. When He is in us, the light of His goodness will overflow our hearts and spill out into the world. Jesus also told a woman to “go and sin no more.” With the Holy Spirit guiding you, your best self will show through.
What does it mean to be “saved”? God is offering you, through the sacrifice of His Lamb [Jesus], forgiveness of sins and life everlasting to be spent with Him in paradise. It is quite an offer. How will you respond? It’s not about gifts and parties. It is about love and relationships. The love of God, which is so great that He offered Himself as a sacrifice for you, is within you. He planted the seeds there. Nurture the seeds within yourself and let that love blossom to share with all the world! In Jesus name I pray! Amen!