Pastor Barry/ The Gathering Church White Christmas Series #4: Love Came Down To hear this message and others download our free app in the App Store. Search the gathering connect.
A Need For Love John 3:16, Hebrews 1:3, 1 John 4:8 Love….this four letter word seems to be the main event of living. Millions of songs about it have been recorded all over the world and they comprise the main subject of all songs ever written, recorded or listened to world-wide. Love, in some fashion, is also the most written about subject in poetry, playwrights, novels and in screen scripts. All humans seem to be preoccupied with the search for it, the struggles with it, the hope of it or the damage from the lack of it. Studies have even shown that all human beings need it. Without love human beings do not develop properly and can actually die.
Cipher in the Snow is a short, but true story written by Jean Mizer about the death of an ostracized teenager. It was later made into a short film by Brigham Young University in 1973. The story is about an ostracized teenager, Cliff Evans, who following his parents’ divorce, has no friends and becomes a completely withdrawn “Cipher” (defined as “Zero” or one with no worth). Then on a school bus, he asked to be let off and collapses and dies in the snow near the roadside. An autopsy reveals no health problems. The heart just stopped. His school’s math teacher is asked to notify his parents and write the obituary. Though listed as Cliff’s favorite teacher, he recalls that he hardly knew him. After getting a delegation to go to the funeral—it’s impossible to find ten people who knew him well enough to go—the teacher resolves never to let this happen to another child in his charge. It is implied that his death was caused by a broken heart; he was unloved.
This fourth Advent candle celebrates the purest of love that came down from the Creator of mankind. God knew that man needed love to remedy his sin-sick condition and since no pure love existed on earth because it had been spoiled by sin, God delivered His love personally in the person of Jesus Christ. He is the perfect representation of God (Hebrews 1:3) and God is love (1 John 4:8). The Christmas story is that God sent His love to a sin-sick world to save mankind from the damnation that was due.
God’s Definition of Love 1 Corinthians 13:1-8, 1 John 4:9-10
Man defines “love” in any number of ways. Man’s definition of things, however, is not the standard by which we will one day be judged. God’s definition is clearly found in His own written word. No human name can adequately replace the word “love” in the definition found in 1 Corinthians 12:1-8; however, the name Jesus can. He is the demonstration of pure, sacrificial and undefiled love. He is “the look of love” as illustrated by God Himself. Love came down wrapped in swaddling cloths.
Love Says “NO!” John 3:14-21, Numbers 21:4-9
Many will say, “if God is love then He would never refuse any man His forgiveness, and He certainly would never send those who rejected Him to hell.” Can love say “No”? Anyone who argues this way makes one fatal mistake in that he is defining love and its boundaries himself. If God is love as the Bible teaches, then He alone has the right to ascribe any boundaries He wants. God’s definition of love requires one to embrace that love to receive it.
Jesus make this point clear to the Pharisee, Nicodemus when He compares Himself to the bronze serpent lifted up by Moses in the wilderness. The Israelites had sinned against God and so they were plagued by poisonous snakes that bit them. God had Moses prepare a gracious remedy. The symbol of a serpent made of bronze. Moses was to instruct those bitten to look at that serpent, which he lifted high on a pole, and live. Any that did as they were instructed lived; however, we infer through the passage that many died. Can you imagine the pride and stupidity of those who perished?
Jesus makes it clear that God so loved the world that He gave Jesus to be our Savior. Jesus did not come to condemn the world for our sin (which would have been just) but to be love’s remedy for our lostness. Like the poisoned Israelites, we must look upon what God has lifted up for our salvation. We must believe on Him who was sent and look up at the cross that was lifted. God has lovingly offered a way out of sin and eternal separation from Him; however, those who refuse to look at the cross and embrace Christ will die in their sin. Love doesn’t say “no” to the seeker. Love makes a way; however, many people will say “no” to God’s provided way. Like those who died of snake bites in the wilderness, they will choose to reject life and suffer an eternity apart from God. God’s love does say “no!” There is no other way to God. (John 14:6)
A Sacrifice of Love Romans 5:8, 6:23
Jesus came to earth as heaven’s sacrifice for mankind’s sin. He came like a lamb to be slaughtered. A perfect and sinless sacrifice for sinful men. He is God wrapped in human flesh. He lived among man for 33 years to demonstrate His perfection and sinlessness. No witness could ever file a truthful charge against Him. He died, not because of His own sin, but for the sins of any who would call out for forgiveness in His Name. God demonstrates His love in Christ…The wages of our sin is death, but Jesus is the gift that brings forgiveness to any that call upon Him.
Jesus is the reason for the season. Without Him there is no love. Without Him there is only judgment and wrath for sinners. Have you humbled yourself at the manger of God’s love? Lift up your eyes to the cross.
As the prophet Isaiah has proclaimed and Jesus has fulfilled it: “Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool. If you are willing and obedient you will eat the good things… for the mouth of the Lord has spoken. Isaiah 1:18b-19, 20b