“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.”
HOW HE WELCOMES US
HOW WE WELCOME HIM
This scripture captures the three gifts that God gives to us. And why shouldn’t it, because it comes from the mouth of the Gift-Giver?
Over the last 25 days we have gone a little deeper through Scripture to understand the three gifts that are graced to us through Jesus Christ—those of faith, hope and love. And here, in this famous statement from our King and Savior, we see how these three gifts of God’s come together through the person of His Son, Jesus.
What might be helpful is to start with what Jesus does not say in this verse. He does not say: “People so loved God that He accepted them" nor “people lived a perfect life or a very devout life, sinless and without blemish so they received eternal life." Though it may seem kind of silly to say these things, how often are we living in such a way that misses the truth, freedom and life of this simple but forever-transforming verse?
Jesus, in one sweeping statement, reveals how God loves us. It is not a half-measured love; it is a love that gives everything He has, which is Himself. He gave Himself to us. God gave us God. The Word became flesh and dwelt among us. God came to us—“Emmanuel.” The visible image of the invisible God, Jesus Christ fully-man, fully-divine, personally came and made Himself visible to all. The Promised One, the One who was, and is, and is to come.
Jesus then tells us why He came: “So that…” Jesus came for everyone. But He then makes it clear who will receive Him. And who will receive this Love? Those that believe in Him.
Jesus reveals the gift of faith. The gift of faith God has given you reveals the true gift, a Person. Faith may be used to acquire things, but its first purpose was always to open the door to a relationship. And not just any person, but to the Creator of all things, to the Holy of holies, to the King of kings, to the Prince of Peace. Faith opens the door to a person called Love, the creator of all things, Jesus Christ.
And when you use faith to welcome Love, hope comes along with Him. Jesus then tells us that all those that believe or have faith in Him will not perish but have eternal life, which is our great hope.
To unpack the way faith, hope and love work together in our relationship with Jesus, let’s use a familiar analogy: imagine the moment when your heart leaps when you first see your best friend, who you haven’t seen in awhile, or the time when you greet a family member who you love dearly but has been overseas. Before that moment, you had the memory of love or the idea of love, but not the person you loved.
That initial greeting we may liken to faith in Christ: our faith-embrace of Him allows us to begin to know Jesus for real, no longer as an idea but as a person. Through faith, we embrace Him. But after that initial jubilation of seeing that long-lost friend wears off and the reality of our problems and “real life” sets in, Jesus doesn’t leave us. Even though our circumstances come and go, Jesus remains the same. This is hope—because what He has promised to us for all eternity is Himself. What we are tasting of Him in the here-and-now is by His Holy Spirit, which is like tasting the first fruits of a harvest. It’s not the whole harvest yet, meaning there is plenty more where that came from. Paul put it this way: “'What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived'—these things God has prepared for those who love him” (1 Corinthians 2:9).
So this is how God loved the world. God gave God to save humanity. He came, not as a God like we would imagine but as a vulnerable human, like you and I. He came as fully man but still fully divine. Born of a virgin. Born into poverty. Born into suffering. Growing up as carpenter’s boy and then He started His ministry in humble beginnings: doing miracles for the destitute, healing the sick, loving His enemies, helping the forgotten, calling theunchosen, saving the lost, bringing and teaching the Kingdom of God. Then, dying at the hands of men and arising three days later, He proved not only that He wasn't just a man, but further displayed that the claims which He made to be God were true all along.
So, people began to believe. So love entered humanity’s heart again. So hope began to rise again. And now it’s our turn to believe. So that love would enter our hearts. So that hope would rise again. So that faith would do good works for a dying world.
Do you believe in Jesus Christ?
This is Advent. This is how He welcomes us. This is how we welcome Him.
FAITH HOPE LOVE
Pastor Josh Kelsey