December 20, 2020 – Advent Week 4
Love is one of the biggest focuses of the holidays. This year, with families and friends separated by covid-19, it’s not going to be the same. This church regularly celebrates Christmas Eve. This year we will stream the service online, instead of meeting in-person at the building.
Practically everybody has seen a reference to John 3:16 somewhere in the United States. People used to share it on signs in sports venues. In-N-Out Burger prints it on the base of its soda cups. You might also run across it on t-shirts, posters, and other souvenirs. But there’s more to the verse.
Tim Tebow achieved an amazing feat when he felt inspired to put John 3:16 on his football eyeblack stickers. He racked up a series of stats for the game which coincidentally included the numbers 3, 1, and 6.
- He threw for 316 yards
- The average yardage for each rush was 3.16 yards
- The average yardage for each pass completion was 31.6
- The Denver Broncos time in possession of the football was 31 minutes, and 6 seconds
- The television broadcast of that NFL game had a Nielsen rating of 31.6
- Millions of people searched John 3:16 online, and made it the number 1 trending search
The love of God is more than just a simple coincidence. The verse often shows up without its context. Nicodemas had puzzling questions about Jesus and what he taught. He came to Jesus under cover of night, to ask Jesus more probing questions:
“How can this be?” Nicodemus asked.
“You are Israel’s teacher,” said Jesus, “and do you not understand these things? Very truly I tell you, we speak of what we know, and we testify to what we have seen, but still you people do not accept our testimony. I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things? No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven—the Son of Man. Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.”
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. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 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. This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil.John 3:9-19 (NIV)
Jesus’ answer sums up the basis of his message.
The point of Christmas is not just in the baby Jesus, the Magi, and the manger; but in Jesus growing up to be the man who would preach, heal, and ultimately save the world.
That’s the message of Christmas. Even at the end of a difficult and challenging year like 2020, this is still good to remember. We often make things too complicated and deep, when we just need to remember God’s love.
God loves you. For God so loved you that he gave his one and only son. God cares about you. God loves everyone who’s listening or reading this message. That’s a powerful message, that’s hopefully not too complicated.
That’s the meaning of Christmas.