The Greatest Gift

#08 in the “Gospel of John” series: An exposition of John 3:16-18. This message by Pastor Rod Harris was delivered at Trinity Baptist Church on Sunday morning, December 12, 2010.

This is such a difficult time of year for me.  I can’t take the pressure.  You see I’m a lousy gift-giver.  It wasn’t until I was an adult I learned what a good liar my mother was.  She always acted as if my Christmas gift was a stroke of shear genius!  “Oh Rodney they’re beautiful.  Thank you!”  I was so proud.  I thought of going into the consulting business.  I was sure area stores would have been interested in my skills.  Looking back I’m wondering what was so great about another pair of house shoes?  As a parent I made sure I was ready with another present while they opened the one in hand.  The minute I saw the “look” I shoved another at them and said, “Here.  Open this one.”  One year I got it right.  Jessie was thrilled by her new tricycle.  Then Zac said, “Hey Jessie that’s just like mine.  I’ll go get mine and we can ride them together!”  It was his – with streamers and a basket.  At best our gift-giving is a mixed bag.  There’s no joy like the joy of getting it right, and there’s no heartache quite like a miserable failure.  When it comes to our gifts we win some and we lose some.

I know that I could stand here and rant and rave against the commercial abuse of the Christmas Season.  That would be easy enough.  We all know things have gotta out of hand.  People paying what they do not have to buy something that will not last in an attempt to bring joy that is destined to fade.  I could wave my Bible and declare that Christmas has nothing to do with gifts but that wouldn’t be true…would it?  The Christmas story includes the tale of those who traveled a great distance in order to honor the one “born king of the Jews.”  They came bearing gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.”  But more importantly the story of Christmas is the story of life’s greatest gift.  God’s gift of love and grace.  The gift of the Christ.  Our text this morning is found in John chapter 3.  It is perhaps the best known passage in all the Bible.  It is the verse that translators first use when translating the gospel message into the heart language of the people.  Our text is John 3:16-18.

As we work through these few verses we are reminded that…

Thesis: The extraordinary love of God provides life’s greatest gift and demands your absolute devotion.

Three things I want to quickly point out.

  1. A great gift finds its motivation in a profound love.  (3:16)
  2. A great gift far exceeds expectation and overwhelms the imagination.  (3:16-17)
  3. Such a great gift demands an appropriate response.  (3:17-18)
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