Christmas Eve 2022, Zion – Precious Is The Child
It is always a special event in the life of a family when a baby is born. As relatives and friends gather, they gush about the little one. You may hear them say that she has her mother’s eyes or his father’s nose. They talk excitedly about how strong they are. You will often hear the comment, “Isn’t he/Isn’t she precious.” The fact is that they are absolutely correct. That child is precious. It is a life that God has created. They are a gift that God has given to that family.
This evening, we are going to spend time hearing about the birth of the most precious child of all time, Jesus. As we prepare to do this, I would like to spend some time reflecting on another verse that talks about children. The apostle John wrote in his first epistle, “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!” (1 John 3:1) John highlights the fact that we are the children of God. I find it interesting that, after John makes the assertion that we are the children of God, he adds the words, “And that is what we are!” John almost seems to anticipate some head-scratching when he says we are God’s children.
Why might there be some uncertain thoughts about what John said? The reason for this is because of the way that we have acted. While we think of our children as precious, we know that they do things that are wrong. They can be selfish, wanting what they want at the expense of others. They can become angry when things don’t go their way. They’re not above bending the truth a little, if they think it will benefit them. Truth be told, we don’t ever outgrow those things, do we? When we examine ourselves, we still find times when we have been selfish. We look for ways to make sure that we get what we want, even if it might hurt someone else. We get frustrated with what we are doing and let our anger out. We fool ourselves into thinking that a little lie here or there isn’t all that bad. The list of our sins is endless. Because of these sins, we do not deserve to be called the children of God. Instead, we deserve to spend our eternity apart from God. So, how then can we be called the children of God, as John does?
The reason we are the precious children of God is because of that precious child that was born in Bethlehem on that first Christmas night. God chose to love us, who were anything but loveable. He put his love into action. John writes later in his First Epistle, “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.” (1 John 4:9) It is this love that we celebrate this evening. God sent his Son, Jesus, into the world that first Christmas to save us from our sins. Jesus, who is the Son of God, left his throne in heaven to be born that night in Bethlehem. He came to the earth to do everything necessary to rescue us from our situation. He became a human being so that he could serve as our Substitute. Throughout his life, he continually followed his Father’s will. He was perfectly loving. He showed care and concern for those who were in need. He spoke the truth in love to all. He did all of this in our place.
Then, in the ultimate show of love, God sacrificed his Son on the cross for our sins. The apostle Paul tells us, “God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8) Just think about that for a moment. See how much God loved us. He chose to love us even though we were sinners. He chose to love us so much that he was willing to punish his own Son on the cross to pay for all of our sins. As a result of Jesus’ work, we have been forgiven. Jesus rose from the dead on Easter morning to assure us that our debt to God has been paid in full. When we ponder this thought, we can stand side by side with John in awe of the amazing love of God. This all happened so that we might become the children of God.
This is what John is speaking about in our text for this evening. He says, “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!” When you hear the Christmas story, you know that it is a story of God’s amazing love. When you hear about Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection, you cannot help but be in awe of God’s love. God loved you so much, he lavished his love on you, that you are called a child of God. John reassures us by writing, “And that is what we are!” You are not just an acquaintance of God. You are not just a friend of God. You are not even a distant cousin. You, through the faith that he creates in your heart, are a part of God’s family. You are God’s own child. This is all true because of God’s amazing love.
Because we are the children of God, we have many blessings that are ours. For instance, we have the assurance that God will give us everything that we need for our daily lives. We are reminded of this in Matthew 7:11. There, after Jesus notes that our fathers, though not perfect, did their best to provide for us, he continues, “If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” Our heavenly Father will continue to provide us with all that we need for our lives, from the clothes on our back to the food in our stomachs, from our homes to the country in which we live, from the ability to earn a living to the gifts that we receive. The list goes on and on of the ways in which our heavenly Father blesses us and takes care of us.
We also have his protection. We read in Psalm 91:9&10, “If you say, ‘The LORD is my refuge,’ and you make the Most High your dwelling, no harm will overtake you, no disaster will come near your tent.” God continues to keep bad things from happening to us. We are not even aware of all the times that God has kept evil from us. He even sent his holy angels to guard and protect us. However, you may ask, then why do bad things still happen to me, since I am God’s child? We have the assurance in Romans 8:28, “We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” There we have the assurance that, though we may not see it or understand it at the moment, God makes everything, both good and bad work out for our benefit. You can have the assurance, because God loved you so much that he made you his child.
Another benefit of being God’s child is that we can come to him in prayer. What an awesome thing it is to come to the Creator of the universe and know that, as our loving Father, he will hear every one of our prayers. We come to him to thank him for all that he has given to us. We can come to him with things that cause us sadness. We can come to him with those things that are concerning to us. He tells us, “Call on me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you will honor me.” (Psalm 50:15) There he promises that he will hear our prayers and will always answer them in the way that is the best for us. Sometimes, it might be exactly what we were thinking. At other times, his answer will be completely different for what we were expecting. Whatever the answer might be, we know that it is just what our loving Father wants for us.
Children also are heirs of their fathers. You and I, as the children of God, stand to receive a great inheritance. We know that, because of the work of Jesus, we have heaven to look forward to. There we will be away from everything that makes life so difficult here. There will be no more pain. There will be no more sadness. There will be no more frustration about the way that things turn out. As a matter of fact, we know that our Brother, Jesus, is already getting things ready for us. He says in John 14:2&3, “My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.” There you will be with your heavenly Father for all eternity. You will be safe in his arms. Nothing can get to you there. You will feel his love without end. All of this is yours because you are a precious child of God. All of this is the precious child Jesus was
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