16 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. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. 19 This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. 20 Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. 21 But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God. (John 3:16-21)
The advent season is about the anticipation of all that Christ brings into our lives. Like Israel anticipating the coming of the Messiah, we live in anticipation of all that Christ will bring to us. For the next four weeks we will look at the main qualities Christ brings into our life in our relationship with Him. Today, we want to meditate on His love.
Our passage teaches us that Jesus came to his earth as a result of God’s love. Let’s think about what God’s love is and what it does.
1. The Nature of His Love
God’s love is different than any other kind of love in that only God can love without expecting anything in return. In other words, only God can Love completely unselfishly.
Often the Bible speaks of God’s love and his condemnation or wrath in the same sentence. How is this reconciled? They are flip sides of the same coin. God’s sense of wrath is wrapped up in his love. The reason we can’t think of God as a God of wrath is because when we see our anger, we see our true selves exposed in all of our self centeredness and it is embarrassing to us.
But it is critical to see his love and fury simultaneously. His wrath is really an expression of his love. Our anger is selfish, God’s wrath is in love and therefore is completely selfless.
God’s wraith is his supple opposition of evil. It arises out of his sense of truth and righteousness.
2. The Extent of His Love
For God so loved the world that he gave his son so that WHOSOEVER believes in his should not perish but have everlasting life…
The extent of God’s love is not just that he loves everyone in the world all at once, but that he loves everyone in the world as if they are the only one to love.
3. The Result of His Love
Everything else in your life that you put before the Lord God will condemn you- except the love of Jesus. Romans 8 says “there is therefore NO condemnation for those who love Jesus.”
Jesus did not come into the world to condemn the world – but to redeem the world.
8 Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, 2 because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death. (Romans 8:1-2)
The result of his love is that both his wrath and his compassion are satisfied on the cross. When the reality of that truth comes into your heart, you will be completely changed.
But Zion said, “The Lord has forsaken me,
the Lord has forgotten me.”
“Can a mother forget the baby at her breast
and have no compassion on the child she has borne?
Though she may forget,
I will not forget you!
See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands;
your walls are ever before me. (Isaiah 49:14-16)
And God says, “My love is also unconditional like a mother’s love for her nursing child. In our relationship, you give me nothing. You just take, take and take. You are completely selfish. You add no value to my life at all, but I keep absolutely loving you and will always love you forever and ever.” If you knew that a love of this magnitude given by a person of this magnitude was really, really yours and if this love was living and moving in your heart moment by moment, what kind of person would you be? You would be someone different that the one sitting here today! There would be a deep, deep joy at the bottom of your heart that no circumstance could take away.
Look at v.16: “I have engraved you on the palm of my hands.” He changes the image of a mother to a master. Sometimes in ancient times, the name of a master might be tattooed on the servant so people would know that the servant belonged to the master. But never, ever is the name of a servant tattooed on a master. That would mean a master who is devoted to his servant.
This is not just another nice image. It is a horrible image. Why? It says, “I have engraved you…” Not tattooed, but engraved. That word “engraved,” means “to engrave with a hammer, chisel or a spike.” See the image? Why in the world would someone out of love allow people to take a hammer and drive a spike through the palm of their hands?
Someone out of love did do that exact thing centuries later. Remember Thomas after the resurrection? He was like Israel in v.14, filled with doubts and fears saying, “I can’t be sure.” Everyone else says, “He is risen!” Jesus appears to him and says, “Look at the palm of my hands. See my love for you.” This is not just an argument. It is action. On the cross, Christ got the forsakenness you deserved so we will never be. Christ became an orphan so we could be adopted. He was the Son of God, the apple of His Father’s eye, who cried, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me!” He got darkness to his cry, so with our cries, like a nursing mother, God moves closer to us. If you feel like Thomas filled with doubts, feeling forsaken and forgotten, unsure of His love and your heart is crying like a nursing restless infant for milk, until he gets hold of the milk, this is the milk. Drink deeply of His love for you this morning. His hands and feet prove it.
- How did God demonstrate his love for us?
- What does it mean that there is no condemnation in God’s love?
- How do we understand God’s wrath by understanding his love?
- How are we changed by God’s love?