Because of Christmas - We Know God Loves Us

Bible Book: Selected Passages 
Subject: Christ, Birth of; Jesus; Christmas; Love of God

1 John 3:1 – “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!”

John 3:16 – “For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

Romans 5:8 – “God demonstrates His love for us in this. While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

As you know we are expecting a new grandchild in May—so this week I decided to do a little Internet crib shopping. You see, I’m thinking for this grandchild we can’t rely on our old tried but true pack-n-play. No—our newest grandbaby deserves better—a REAL CRIB. So—I asked Mr. Google for some help and I found some amazing options.

This first one is what I call “The Craft Country Crib.” Isn’t it cool? I have never seen a ROUND crib like this. The thing I like about it being round is that no matter where you stand you are equidistant from the grandbaby! GREAT IDEA!

The second one I found won’t do for us—but I am keeping it in mind if we ever have TWIN grandkids. I mean, these babies would be great for TWO grandbabies!

This third crib is more of a toddler BED—but I still think it is awesome—sort of a WAGON TRAIN kind of deal. It would be perfect if our new grandchild is a boy who shows John Wayne tendencies.

And then this last crib/fairytale carriage would be wonderful if the Lord blesses us with a little girl in May—it would be the perfect place for the next little Adams princess to sleep.

Now—these are all amazing cribs—but the bad news is I discovered they are very expensive. They cost thousands of dollars—much more than a full-sized ADULT bed. In fact, most of the time when I looked for the price the catalogue said, “Call for a price quote.”—which means, “If you have to ask—you can’t afford it.” In any case, the high price of these cool cribs has led me to decide our new grandchild will do just fine in the good ole pack ‘n’ play! I mean, if it was good enough for Lydia and Joel…

Well—on this fourth Sunday of advent I want us to focus on a more important baby bed—I want us to look at the “crib” where the newborn baby Jesus was first laid that first Christmas night. And of course, it wasn’t anything even remotely close to these baby beds I’ve shown you. No—Jesus’ first “bed” was a simple manger. In most Christmas pageants we make the manger look nice and cozy—we fix it so it looks like a wooden cradle of sorts—overflowing with warm dry, clean straw. But that’s not at all what it was REALLY like.  No—wood was too precious in Israel for use in a stable. The manger Jesus was laid in was made of cold stone—like this one.

And—this was NOT a customary place to put a baby back then. I say that because the way the angels told the shepherds how they could spot the messiah—was to look for a baby lying in an odd place—a manger.

Think of it. The Son of God was laid not in the first century version of a crib—not even in a warm straw-filled wooden cradle. No, the newborn baby Jesus was laid in a cold, stone feeding trough that was no doubt full of fodder made soggy by the saliva of cows or sheep. I mean, it would be much like our laying a newborn in a gutter.

Now—think about that for a moment—because there’s a message here. This manger deal wasn’t accidental. Nothing about God’s plan is. Jesus was laid in that cold stone manger to underscore how very much God loves us. It’s another indication of the lengths He would go in order to save us from our sin.

Lucado writes, “The story of Christmas is the story of God’s relentless love for us. You can question His actions, decisions, or declarations. But you can never, ever question His stunning, unquenchable affection. Christmas proves there is no place God will not go. If He is willing to be born in a barnyard, then expect Him to be at work anywhere—bars, bedrooms, boardrooms, and brothels. No place is too common. No person is too hardened. No distance is too far. There is no person He cannot reach. There is no limit to His love.”

And—of course “FAR” is a good word to describe the distance between us and God—for God is Holy and we are not. We are all sinners—even the best of us—even the smallest of us. We are all born that way—born sinful—born separated from God. In fact, the Bible says we are born DEAD—spiritually dead. Proof of this fact is the knowledge that our sin also causes each of us to die physically. Scientists and medical researchers seem to discover a new thing that causes cancer every day—but the root cause of cancer—and every disease—the root cause of death itself is sin. And God loved us too much to let things stay that way. So, on the first Christmas night He sent His Son into this fallen world. Jesus eventually out-grew that manger. He became a boy and then a man and He did it all perfectly. I mean, He was sinless in thought, word, and deed every moment of every day of every week of every month of every one of His 33 years.

So—with no sin debt of His own—He could pay ours. He could—and did—die in our place on that Roman cross. And on the third day He rose again—defeating death once and for all.

So—because of Christmas—when a man or woman or boy or girl admits the fact that they are sinners—and confesses their belief that Jesus did indeed die in their place—God can and will forgive them of their sin. As 1st John 1:9 says, “He is faithful and just to forgive them of their sins and to cleanse them from all unrighteousness.” But the best part of it all is that because of Christmas God can and will come into their hearts—into their lives. In that all-important decision, a person becomes the “manger” where God resides. As Paul described it, “it is CHRIST IN YOU—the hope of glory.”

Now—what I have just said is the basic Gospel message—and you have to admit it makes sense. Jesus paid for our sin. He exchanged His sinlessness for our sin. He died our death. WHAT He did adds up. But WHY He did it is another thing all together. I mean, why would a holy God die for filthy sinners like you and me? That doesn’t “add up” does it!? I mean, did God do this because of some moral duty of some sort of Heavenly obligation?  No—God is God! He is required to do nothing. God did it all—from the manger to the cross because He LOVES us.

Of course—that caliber of love is hard for us to grasp. God’s love is in a different league altogether. It’s one way that, as God puts it in Isaiah 55:8, “My thoughts are not your thoughts and My ways are not your ways.”

God’s love is hard for us to wrap our heads around. It’s like me trying to understand calculus—or particle physics. We need help to even begin to understand the LOVE of God. Paul hints at this when he wrote to the Ephesians, “I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people—to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge.” Well, this morning I’d like to try us to prepare ourselves for Christmas conversations with people who don’t know Jesus—by helping them begin to GRASP the love of God. I want to do this by giving you four basic statements. Commit them to memory. I’ll be praying God gives you opportunities to use them. Here’s the first thing you can tell someone who is trying to understand God’s great love—a love that surpasses knowledge:

I. God has ALWAYS loved you—and He ALWAYS will.

In other words, God’s love is ETERNAL.As Tozer puts it, “Since God is self-existent, His love had no beginning; because He is eternal, His love can have no end; because He is infinite, it has no limit.” God has ALWAYS loved us. In fact, LOVE is why God created us in the first place!

I mean, God’s POWER is the HOW of creation but His great LOVE is the WHY. You see, love demands an object and you and I are that object. We are and always have been the focus of God’s affection. Theologians like Tozer remind us that God created everything freely, not out of necessity. AND THIS IS A VERY IMPORTANT FACT FOR US TO GRASP because it means that God did not make us because He was bored, lonely, or had run out of things to do. No–God did not create us out of NEED. He created us out of His LOVE. C. S. Lewis wrote, “God Who needs nothing, loves into existence wholly superfluous creatures in order that He may love and PERFECT them.”

And that is where Christmas comes in because our PERFECTING is why Jesus was born. As I said He came to earth to make it possible for our sins to be washed away so that we could be clean and pure—perfectly covered in His righteousness as we stand before our holy God. And, please understand the ETERNAL aspect of God’s love reminds us that Jesus’ coming was no last-ditch effort to save the human race. It was God’s plan all along. You see, in His for-knowledge God knew Adam and Eve would sin and that the entire human race—you and me included—would follow suit. This is why, immediately after the Fall He promised that a Redeemer would come. Remember? In Genesis 3:15 He said that Redeemer would be the seed of a woman—in other words He would be virgin born. At Christmas, we celebrate the birth of that long-awaited Redeemer—Jesus, the Christ—-born of the virgin Mary—and Who, as Revelation 13:8 reminds us was, “…the Lamb that was slain before the creation of the world.” Revelation 13:8

So, you see, God’s love IS eternal. Even at the dawn of our time, His limitless love prompted Him to plan for our redemption by sending His only Son to earth—for the purpose of dying for our sins. Think of it this way. God has been loving YOU since before the dawn of time. And that leads me to mention a second thing we must remember to share about God’s love. We must tell our friends and neighbors and co-workers:

II. God loves YOU

Did you get my emphasis? God’s love is PERSONAL! When God sent His Son into the world—when He gave us Jesus—-He had you and me as individuals in mind. Do you remember what the angel said to the shepherds that night? In Luke 2:11 he proclaimed, “Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to…YOU!” The glorious news of Christmas is that, like that angel said, Jesus came for YOU—and YOU and YOU and YOU—and ME! God’s indescribable Christmas Gift was given with every individual in all of creation in mind. Paul understood this. As he said in Galatians 2:20, “The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, Who loved ME and gave Himself for ME.” And every person can say these words just as confidently as Paul did!

Surely one of the messages of that parable Jesus told about the shepherd who, when he lost one of his sheep, left the 99 to go and find him—one of the messages of this familiar parable is that even if there were only one sinner separated from God on this planet, Jesus would have still come and died on that cross—because God loves each and every one of us as if we were the most precious thing in His universe. To Him EACH and every human being is priceless—invaluable! Remember that the next time you look DOWN on someone.

Max Lucado writes, “There are many reasons God saves you: to bring glory to Himself, to appease His justice, to demonstrate His sovereignty. But one of the sweetest reasons God saved you is because He [LOVES] of you. He likes having you around. He thinks you’re the best thing to come down the pike in quite a while. If God had a refrigerator, your picture would be on it. If He had a wallet, your photo would be in it. He sends you flowers every Spring, and a sunrise every morning. Whenever you want to talk, He’ll listen. He can live anywhere in the universe and He chose your heart. And the Christmas gift He sent you in Bethlehem? Face it friend, He’s crazy about you!”

Well, Lucado is right! I know it sounds a bit irreverent but the Bible teaches that God IS crazy about each of us—that He focuses on each of us. As a grandfather crazy about his grandkids—I have really enjoyed Bill Archer’s craziness about his first. Whenever I mention her a smile grows on his face and he reaches for his cell phone to show me the latest picture.  I was in the choir room the other day and I see he has about six pictures of her on the white board. I wouldn’t be surprised to hear that he puts up six new pictures each week! Bill is indeed CRAZY about his grandbaby—if you’re a grandad and can relate, say AMEN!

Well God is INFINTELY more crazy about EACH AND EVERY ONE OF YOU. That’s why He gave us the gift of His only Son that first Christmas night, He did so with each of us in mind.

God’s love is a PERSONAL love—a love that seeks each of us. The basic fact I’m trying to convey is the humbling—profound truth that God almighty—loves You. This week I learned that back in 2009, a Dutch artist named Johan van der Dong decided God needed a telephone number. So, he got Him one—A CELL PHONE to be exact. Dong said he did this to show that God was “available anywhere and anytime.” Dong said, “In earlier times you would go to a church to say a prayer, and now [this is an] opportunity to just make a phone call and say your prayer in a modern way.” Well a lot of people appreciated the opportunity Dong afforded them with his “divine hotline.” In just the first week, over 1,000 people left God a message. The sad thing about it all is when they called the number—they would hear, “This is the voice of God. I am not able to speak to you at the moment, but please leave a message.” That doesn’t exactly convey the idea of a God who is “available anywhere and anytime,” does it? To make matters worse, Dong only kept the line open for six months. When you think about it, Dong has really only managed to connect people to an altogether disconnected God. Well, DONG got it all WRONG.

That’s not at ALL how God is. He IS always available anywhere an any time—and He is always waiting to listen to us—because He loves EACH of us. And God doesn’t SCREEN His calls. I mean if he DID have a cell phone His contact list would include every human being ever born or yet to be born. And when He saw your name on the screen, He’d hit that “answer” button immediately. He’d be THRILLED to hear from you. I’m reminded of a passage in Revelation that says all of Heaven becomes silent when someone prays. It’s as if God says, “Shhh—stop the singing—I want to hear—MARK is calling—or CONNY is calling—or JAMES is calling—-or AVA is calling—or COCOA is calling—or DORLENE is calling—or PEDRO is calling—or RURU is calling!”

Remember to share this message with any seeker God puts in your way this Christmas. Tell them, “GOD LOVES YOU!” Here’s a third sentence to commit to memory and I’ve borrowed it from Philip Yancey.

III. You can’t make God LOVE you MORE or LESS

There’s nothing you can do to make God love you any MORE—and there’s nothing you can do to make Him love you any LESS. In other words, God’s love is a truly UNCONDITIONAL love. God loves all people equally—not just the good or the obedient—He loves even the bad and the disobedient. He doesn’t love what they do—but He loves them just as much as He loves anyone else. And He loves like this because the source of His love is in Himself, not in the object of His love. I mean, you and I don’t provoke, trick, convince, earn, or win God’s love. He doesn’t love us because of who we are but rather because of Who He is. His nature and character compel Him to express complete, unconditional love toward each and every one of us.

Let me put it this way. God loves Adolph Hitler just as much as He does Billy Graham. I know that statement is shocking. But it is true. And the fact that it is shocking is proof of the fact that we struggle to comprehend God’s love, because it is so unlike our human love. You see, our love tends to be characterized with “ifs,” “maybes,” and “becauses.” I’ll love you IF you do this, or I love you BECAUSE you did that. I’ll FRIEND you if you’re cool enough. I’ll subscribe to your tweets or your blog or your Instagram—if it’s worth my time. Human love is generally a response to the conditions and circumstances around us. We love because someone pleases us or because they’re good looking or because they make us laugh. In contrast, God loves us because that’s the kind of God He is. Period. Nothing in us causes Him to love us.

I don’t want to pop your bubble but the fact is you are not a naturally lovable person and neither am I. Sin has infected our lives so much that it has distorted even the parts we think are beautiful. Look at it this way. Sin “uglifies” everything it touches and we are all sinners. So, there IS no reason for our Holy, sinless God to love us except this: That’s the kind of God He is. In spite of our constant sin and REBELLION against His loving laws, God loves us.

Back in the 1960’s the BBC made a television series about Jesus called The Son of Man and in it, they pictured Jesus vastly different than any film I’ve ever seen. He’s earthy, disheveled—-even somewhat pot-bellied. It’s kind of shocking to watch and it’s definitely not my favorite image of Jesus. But, I remember seeing a clip of this film in a video study of Yancey’s book, What’s So Amazing About Grace—a clip that really spoke to me. In this particular scene, Roman soldiers descend on a Jewish village, sacking, burning, beating, and killing. Women shriek. Men lie in pools of spilled blood. And—shortly after the Romans leave Jesus arrives. He sees the survivors standing around weeping, cursing, and nursing wounds. Houses smolder in the background. Jesus looks at all this and then He begins to speak, saying, “You have hard it said, ‘Hate your enemy. An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’” Well, the people love this. They howl, “Yes! Yes! Find those Romans! Gouge their eyes out! Break their teeth!” Then Jesus looks around, and says, “You have heard THIS—but I tell you, LOVE your enemy!” “No!” they shout. “Yes!” Jesus shouts right back at them. “Love him, and if he strikes you on the cheek, give him the other to strike also.” In response, they almost lynch Jesus for His outrageous grace. Well, I like this scene because it brings into clearer focus that this is exactly how God loves us.

Romans 5:10 says that because of our sin, “WE were God’s enemies” but as we read in Romans 5:8, “God demonstrates His love for us in this. While we were still sinners [even though we were His enemies—even though every day we choose to go our way instead of His—in spite of this], Christ died for us.” Mark Buchanan writes, “This is the [unconditional] love of God: an alchemy that can turn enemies into children.”

How many of you know the name Ted Kaczynski? Right, he was also known as “the Unabomber.” If you know anything about Kaczynski’s story, you know that he grew up a very gifted young man. He became a math professor, but was soon disillusioned and moved to the mountains of Montana. He would sometimes come down from the mountains to send mail bombs to people he didn’t like. After years of investigation, he was finally discovered by police and sent to prison. A while ago, his mother, Wanda Kaczynski, was interviewed by a reporter with the Chicago Tribune. She made some statements that I thought were powerful. At the time that the article was written, she had been writing monthly letters to her son in prison. She shared with the reporter what she had written in her most recent letter. She wrote: “I want you to know, Ted, that when a child is born, the parents give them the gift of unconditional love for a lifetime. This is true of you. No matter what happens, my love for you will be there for a lifetime. Love, Mother.”

Even after he had refused to look at her when he entered the courtroom during his trial, even after he had given testimony in court that described her as a horrible person—she still loved him enough to write those monthly letters. We look at that as a rather amazing act of human love—the love of a mother for her son—but at Christmas we are reminded that God has done something even more incredible than that. While we were still sinners—while were still in full-out rebellion against Him—He sent His son to die for us. As 1st John 4:10 says, “This is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us, and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.”

Here’s a fourth fact to remember—it will help you explain GOD’S unconditional love.


As John 3:16 says, God so—loved the WORLD—-ALL of it! And aren’t you glad it’s worded that way? As Lucado points out, aren’t you glad John 3:16 doesn’t say, “For God so loved the rich” or “For God so loved the famous” or “For God so loved the thin”—Or “For God so loved 62-year-old men who still have their hair?”

It doesn’t say that does it! Nor does it say “For God so loved the Europeans or Africans” or “The sober or successful” or “the young or the old.” No, it says that God so loved the WORLD and everyone in it. That’s how big, how all-encompassing the love of God is. Think of it this way: if your best love would fill a tiny vial, God’s would fill the oceans on a billion, billion, billion planets. In fact, that’s another way to put it. You could say, “GOD’S LOVE IS BIG” because it is. In fact it is so big it can’t be measured. As we read earlier—it SURPASSES KNOWLEDGE—SURPASSES MEASURE.

This week I came across an article about the HIGHEST and the LOWEST spots in the universe. The HIGHEST would be the galaxy that is the farthest away. It was discovered by spectroscopy and is referred to as: z8_GND_5296.6. Now—that’s not an old AOL screen name. It’s a galaxy that is 13.8 billion light-years old, or 13.8 billion light-years away. Spatially speaking, it’s the highest height. The deepest depth is the Challenger Deep, part of a trench 6.85 miles beneath the U.S. Territorial Island of Guam. Well, that gives us a picture of how BIG God’s love is. It goes from the zero gravity of space 13.8 billion light years away to the 1,000-times atmospheric pressure of the deep seas—and beyond that. But you don’t have to remember all that—you just have to remember that God’s love is BIG—big enough to encompass everyone—including YOU.

One more statement and I’m done.

V. God’s LOVE can be SEEN.

I mean, God’s love is far more than an immeasurable emotion or inclination. It’s more than an aspect of His holy character. God’s love is visible. You can see clear evidence of it. 1st John 3:16 puts it this way, “This is how we know what [God’s] love is. [We can see it in the fact that] Jesus Christ laid down His life for us.” Referring to His coming sacrifice on the cross, in John 13:1 Jesus said, “Having loved His own who were in the world, He now SHOWED them the full extent of His love.” Above all things, Christmas—the Christ story, Jesus’ birth, life, sacrificial death, and victorious resurrection—-shows us the love of God.


This past week, Mike Jones and I went to see the new film produced by Mel Gibson—Hacksaw Ridge. I must warn you—it is not a film for children because it very accurately portrays the violence of war. But it is a powerful TRUE story. It’s about Pfc. Desmond T. Doss, who won the Congressional Medal of Honor despite refusing to bear arms during WWII on religious grounds.

He’s the only conscientious objector to do so. Doss, a Christian who wouldn’t touch a weapon or work on the Sabbath, enlisted in the Army as a combat medic because he believed in the cause, but had vowed not to kill. Well, the Army wanted nothing to do with him. His fellow soldiers considered him a pest, questioned his sincerity, and threw shoes at him while he prayed. Doss’ commanding officer, Capt. Jack Glover, tried to get him transferred. In a documentary based on Doss’ life, Glover says Doss told him, “Don’t ever doubt my courage because I will be right by your side saving life while you take life.” At Okinawa in the spring of 1945, Doss’ company faced a grueling task: Climb a steep, jagged cliff—sometimes called Hacksaw Ridge—to a plateau where thousands of heavily armed Japanese soldiers were waiting for them. The terrain was treacherous. After his company faced a heavy counter attack they retreated back down the cliff but Doss stayed. Under a barrage of gunfire and explosions, he crawled on the ground from wounded soldier to wounded soldier. He dragged severely injured men to the edge of the ridge, tied a rope around their bodies and lowered them down to other medics below.

The most powerful part of the movie was when, after lowering each wounded man to safety, Doss would say: “Lord, please help me get one more.” Veteran Carl Bentley, who was also at Hacksaw Ridge, once said, “It’s as if God had his hand on [Doss’] shoulder. It’s the only explanation I can give.” Well, over a 12-hour period God answered that prayer over SEVENTY-FIVE TIMES. He even saved his captain, Jack Glover. Doss even lowered a couple wounded Japanese soldiers to safety. The same soldiers who had shamed him now praised him. Glover said, “He was one of the bravest persons alive. And then to have him end up saving my life was the irony of the whole thing.” In fact, the next day, the company refused to go back up Hacksaw Ridge until DOSS finished praying. They won the battle that day but Doss was severely wounded and sent home.

Well, in the same way DOSS’ fellow soldiers could SEE his faith—SEE his bravery—we need only look at the CHRISTMAS STORY to SEE God’s great love. In Jesus God came to save us. In essence He crawled up a “HACKSAW ridge” to rescue each us. Lucado writes, “In Jesus God became one of us so we could become one with Him. He did away with every barrier, fence, sin, bent, debt, and grave. Anything that might keep us from Him was demolished. He only awaits our word to walk through the door. One request from you, and God will do again what He did that first Christmas: scatter the night with everlasting light. He’ll be born in you. Listen as God whispers, ‘No mess turns me back; no smell turns me off. Every heart can be a manger. Every day can be a Christmas.”