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What does love mean to you? Do you love your new bike? Or that favorite type of pizza or ice cream? Or maybe you think about the love of a parent for a child. Or the love of a husband for a wife. Or the bond you share with your best friend. Or maybe you think about the best love of all: The love of God for his people.
1 John 4:9 says, “This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him.” This scripture tells us two things about God’s love. First, he showed his love by sending his Son. Second, he sent his Son so that we can live through him. Let’s look at each of these promises individually.
The Bible says that God loved his Son. At both Jesus’ baptism and the transfiguration, God clearly stated, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” Yet 1 John 4:9 says that God sent his Son because he loved us. If we continue reading in verse 10, it says, “This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” In spite of the fact that God loved his only Son, he loved us so much that he sent Jesus as a sacrifice for our sins. And did he do this because we deserved it? No! Romans 5:8 says, “God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” The enormity of God’s love for us is seen in this verse. He loved us so much that while we were still sinners, he sent his only Son, whom he loved, to be the sacrifice for our sins.
The second part of 1 John 4:9 tells us the purpose for this sacrifice: so that we might live through him. What does it mean to live through Christ? The first verse that came to my mind was John 10:10, “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” What does it mean to have a full life or an abundant life? Money? Success? All the right gifts under the tree? That’s what the world tells us. But what does the Bible say? When I looked up abundant life, the verses weren’t full of any materialistic ideals. Instead, they talked about being full of the Spirit (John 6:63). They talked about the grace of God being poured out abundantly, along with faith and love and truth in Christ Jesus (1 Tim 1:14, John 1:16-17). They talked about the gift of righteousness that comes through Christ’s sacrifice (Romans 5:17). This is what it means to live abundantly.
But living through Christ doesn’t just mean the here and now. God also sent his Son to give us eternal life. John 3:16 says, “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.” John 17:3 explains further, “Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.” What an amazing promise! God loved us so much that he wanted us to have an abundant life on earth and eternal life with him, and he accomplished this by sending his only Son to earth on Christmas to be the sacrifice for our sins. That is true love demonstrated to us at Christmas.
Don’t forget to follow along with our Advent calendar! All the verses this week speak about the message of Love.