“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.”
For Unto Us a Child is Born — By Dean Marini
For unto us a Child is born. John 3:16 is very likely the most well-known verse in the Bible: “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.” We have seen this verse displayed on t-shirts, bumper stickers, plaques and held up on signs during television coverage. While you have heard that “God so loved the world”, have you considered just how much He loves you?
Let us for a moment consider the Book of Luke. Luke 15:11-32 contains a parable of the prodigal son. This parable tells of a father with two sons. One is obedient, loyal and serves his father faithfully. The other asks for his father’s inheritance and goes off to squander it on a life of rebellion and wild living … only to end up broke, destitute and longing for home. The father loves both sons equally. While he spends daily time with the faithful one, loving him and being proud of the man he is becoming, he also spends time each day going out and watching for the disobedient son who has run off. Lovingly hoping that he will one day return.
This parable is a perfect illustration of the love that God has for you and for me. It allows us the comfort of knowing that the promise of John 15:7 is true: “If you remain in Me and My words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.” In the parable of the prodigal son, the father assures the loyal and obedient son that “everything I have is yours.” But we also learn that during times of disobedience, rebellion and sin, through repentance, nothing will separate us from the love of God (see Romans 8:38). When the prodigal son becomes desperate and returns home to beg his father to take him back, the father runs with open arms to greet his son. The father never ceased in keeping watch for him.
When the son returned, the father did not make the prodigal earn his way back into the family. He didn’t subject him to ridicule or a lengthy loyalty test. Through love, the father forgave his son and immediately welcomed him home. This kind of unconditional love is hard to fathom in a society that teaches us to keep track of every hurt and disappointment. As a recipient of that incredible forgiveness and restoration, even I struggle sometimes to fully grasp how deeply God cares for us. In His mercy, He has blessed me with so many wonderful lessons of love … one more just a few days ago.
December 6, 2020 was a challenge. I had two dear friends experiencing two very different days. One friend was celebrating her birthday. While another friend received heart-wrenching news that her gravely ill husband’s condition had become worse. I spent the day between great joy of celebration and heartbreaking sorrow. On the one hand, I prayed for a birthday girl to know how special she was. On the other, I prayed for comfort and miraculous healing.
As I searched Scripture for guidance, comfort and instruction on this day, God reminded me of the Book of Psalms — a powerful Book of prayer filled to the brim with both joy and mourning as well as praise for God’s blessing even in the toughest of times (see Psalm 34, Psalm 111 and Psalm 18). Some of the Psalms were written by people in great despair (Psalm 6, Psalm 56 and Psalm 61), yet in every situation the psalmist found himself engulfed in God’s love. Both of my dear friends needed my love that day. And that unique situation, caught between great joy and great sorrow, allowed me to not only tap into the varying degrees of my own love for others, but also of God’s love. How His divine love is ever-present in every situation and in any and every way His child needs it.
Luke chapter 2 shares with us the account of God sending our long awaited Messiah to Earth. In this passage, the angel’s proclaim “good tidings of great joy, which shall be for all people.” Let us remember today that God did not just send Jesus Christ, His only begotten Son, to the obedient and faithful. He was sent for the sinners, for the lost, broken and the ones separated from God. Romans 5:8 assures us, “But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” No matter where you find yourself in life or in your relationship with God, rest assured that He loves you unconditionally. In your times of challenge and heartbreak, He is with you. If you have been distant from God, He awaits your return. Whatever situation you are in, meditate on the Scriptures. Visit the Book of Psalms. And above all, rejoice that with God you are always loved and you will always be welcomed Home … for unto us a Child is born.
Written by Dean Marini