Bible reading: 1 John 4vs9-16. My life (put) alongside God's word, volume 1.
In 1 John 4:14 we read the clearest statement of the meaning of Christmas one could ever wish to see. In fact, between vv9-16 we read no less than three times why God the Father sent God the Son into the world, (see vv9, 10, 14).
Since all three texts involve the word “sent” we should first establish the precise meaning of this word. The English dictionary defines: “To have caused or ordered (a person or thing) to be taken, directed or transmitted to another place”. The Greek dictionary says of the word apostello: “to commission, to set forth to serve”.
Putting these together we can understand that, within the mysterious Trinity Who is Almighty God, God the Father commanded God the Son from heaven to earth. We know from elsewhere “Christ is the image of the invisible God” and “in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form” Colossians 1:15, 2:9. So it could be put like this, “God Himself came to earth and in His (God's) human life He showed us what God is like, in ways understandable to us”.
In His mind God the Father had a specific task, a lifetime of service. God the Son came from the glorious, heavenly presence of God the Trinity, into a human body in Bethlehem’s scruffy stable. He would soon be named ‘Jesus’. He was conceived miraculously in Mary’s womb. As Joseph was told, Jesus would, “save His people from their sins”, Matthew 1:21.
Please note: there was no sex between God and Mary as some wrongly think. There didn’t need to be any sex. This was a wonderfully pure miracle of Almighty God, implanting a divine seed through the “overshadowing”, Luke 1:35, of God the Holy Spirit, into a remarkably submissive human being. He had set apart Mary for this awesomely responsible privilege. How I wish I had Mary’s faith! Luke 1:38.
Jesus would live a sinless and perfect life. He would die an undeserving death, because God was showing His great love to the world during that first Christmas.
This part of 1 John is all about the love of God. It is “a great love” 3:1, “we know what love is by Jesus’ atoning death” 3:16, “love comes from God” 4:7, “God loved us and sent His Son” 4:10, “God so loved us” 4:11, “we can rely on the love God has for us” 4:16, and surely the most wonderful description of God in the entire Bible: “God is love” 4:16. (Italics all mine).
Knowing we are thinking about God and His love for us, let’s now examine the three
1 John texts which say “God sent His Son into the world”.
1. “God sent His one and only Son into the world that we might live through Him” 4:9.
In His love God has provided a way for spiritually dead people to come alive, being born again into a living, daily relationship with God Himself. All people are born like lame animals, unable to be fully what they were created to be. Our human “lameness” is because we have disregarded God and His laws. We have lived our own way. We are “sinners”, Matthew 1:21. Jesus was not lame like us. He was everything humankind was created to be, and more besides!
2. “God sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins” 4:10.
Because God loves everyone of us so very much – even though we have done nothing to deserve His love – God has faced His own wrath and judgement for sin. This was when God the Son, Jesus, died on Calvary’s cross. Jesus was born to die, at the hand of God, in our place. Elsewhere Scripture says, “God was reconciling the world to Himself in Christ”, 2 Corinthians 5:19. When peoples war against each other it can sometimes end when a Peace Agreement is signed. Jesus is God’s offered Peace Agreement to us. Unlike human agreements, there is no negotiation. God Himself has paid everything necessary for our peace with Him, using His own spilt blood. This is now a ‘take it or leave it’ offer.
3. “God sent His Son to be the Saviour of the world” 4:14.
John writes that we can trustingly rely on God’s shown love for us, 4:16. Everyone who wants to may ask Jesus to be their own personal Saviour. A “Saviour” is “a deliverer, a safe-keeper”, “a person who rescues another from danger or harm”, As young children rely on their parents, so we can rely on God. What a tremendous privilege, to have God Himself as the One in Whom we can trust, not only for this life but also through death and beyond.
At Christmas time, when many people give gifts to one another, (and at other times) remember the greatest Gift of all time. God gave His own Human Life to death so that you and I may one day stand before Him, free from all of our sin.
Our Saviour – the Lord Jesus Christ, will shelter us!
Let us all take time now to praise the name of Jesus!
1. How can you explain the Holy Spirit’s “overshadowing” of Mary to someone who believes “it must have been sex”? Consider Luke 9:28-36, where the same Greek word (episkiazo) appears in v34, describing the transfiguration of our Lord Jesus.
2. There is a difference between all of John’s references to God’s love and the text, “God is love”, 1 John 4:16. We know what it means to “love someone”, but what does it mean to “be love”?
3. Read 1 John 4:15-16. How does any person “know and rely on the love God has for us” v16? How do you?