The Greatest Gift of All!
John 3:16-18
16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.
18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.

A. Christmas 2022
1. New York City
a) Decorations
b) Happy Holidays/Merry Christmas!
c) The Rockettes Christmas Spectacular
2. Christmas is all about Jesus!

B. The Giving of Gifts
1. Did you get the gift that you wanted for Christmas?
2. When most people think of Christmas, usually they sooner or later think about gifts.
a) They think about giving gifts and getting gifts.
b) They think about making lists of what other people want and of what they want.
c) Children wait for Christmas and they think it will never get here to see if they will get the gift that they have been wishing for.
3. But this is not what Christmas is all about!
a) The true meaning of Christmas is that it is the time when we honor the birth of our Lord and Savior.
b) Actually, the whole idea of giving gifts at Christmas doesn’t come from advertisers.
c) Most people think that the giving of gifts at Christmas is rooted in the gifts of “gold, frankincense, and myrrh” given to Jesus by the Magi in Matthew 2:11.
d) But the first gift of Christmas and the greatest gift of Christmas came from God the Father.
(1) 16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
e) And just as important as the gift is the reason that He gave His gift to us!

C. The Gift of the Magi
1. One of my favorite Christmas stories is O. Henry’s famous short story The Gift of the Magi.
2. The story tells of a young couple living in deep poverty in New York City about 100 years ago.
3. Being very much in love, they each desire to give the other a wonderful Christmas present, but they barely have enough money to survive, much less for Christmas presents.
4. In an act of great sacrifice, the young husband hocks his only valuable possession, his father’s gold watch in order to buy his wife a set of expensive combs for her long beautiful hair.
5. Meanwhile, the loving young wife cut her hair and sells it to a wig maker in order to buy her husband a gold chain to replace the string on his father’s gold watch.
6. The whole point of O. Henry’s story is that what is given is not as important as why it was given.
7. Keep that in mind – your motivation for giving is vastly more important than the object that you give.

D. The Greatest Gift of All
1. Today, we will look at a very familiar passage and gain some insight on the greatest gift ever given.
2. At Christmas we try to figure out what the best Christmas gift would be for someone.
a) What would be the most appropriate gift?
b) God knew from before time began how much we needed the gift that He would send to us.
3. It wasn’t money and it wasn’t anything materialistic.
4. But it was the greatest gift of all: His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ!

I. God’s Motivation for the Greatest Gift (John 3:16a)
A. What motivates us to give gifts during the holidays?
1. We give some gifts because of obligation.
a) Sometimes we give just because it is expected.
b) I’ll bet you bought gifts for some co-workers, relatives or acquaintances just because you felt like you had to!
2. We give some gifts to impress other people.
a) If you give just so others will be impressed, then you need to remember what Jesus said of the Pharisees, “…they have their reward.”
3. We give some gifts because of we expect something in return.
4. We give some gifts because of compassion.
a) During the holidays, most of us have given to someone in need.
b) Angel Tree gifts, the Salvation Army’s red buckets or helped a family fallen on hard times.
5. We give some gifts because of appreciation.
a) Each year Betty and I do something special for some people just because we appreciate them.
b) Most of you have given gifts that are in appreciation for someone in your life.
6. And some gifts we give purely because we love the person.
a) There are a few people in our lives that we love more than anyone else.
b) These are the gifts that are the most special for us because they are motivated by our love.

B. God’s motivation for giving the Greatest Gift
1. John 3:16 is the most familiar verse in the Bible.
a) We see it on placards, on T-shirts or even painted on someone’s chest at football games.
b) You can even see it printed on bumper stickers on cars.
c) Just because it is familiar does not mean it is unimportant.
2. Look at the first phrase, “For God so loved the world…”
a) God not only “loved the world,” He “SO loved the world.”
b) His love is deep and wide
3. The term “world” or kosmos, and it means all of creation.
a) God created the “world” to reflect His goodness and glory.
b) He created man to bear His image, to share His love and fellowship.
c) However, even in the dawn of creation, man rebelled against God and the whole world, all of creation was marred by sin.
d) Even so, God SO loved the world He sent His Son to set it straight.
4. Romans 5:8 says, “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
a) The first gift I ever gave Betty was a jewelry box.
b) Over the years I have given her many things that she has placed in that jewelry box.
c) They are not worth a lot of money, but she still has that jewelry box and when Betty opens it up and looks in what she sees are things that I have given her over the years to “demonstrate” my love for her.
d) God’s gift to us demonstrates His love for us is Jesus!
5. Let’s open the jewelry box of God’s word and see how He reminds us of how He demonstrated His love for us.
a) Ephesians 2:4-5 says, “But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved).”
b) Titus 3:4-5 speaks of the coming of Christ, “But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit.”
c) 1 John 3:1 says, “Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God!”
d) 1 John 4:9 says, “In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him.”
e) God’s love is eternal – it has always been and it always will be – Jeremiah the prophet wrote, “The LORD has appeared of old to me, saying: ‘Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love; Therefore with lovingkindness I have drawn you’” (Jeremiah31:3).
6. Once a pastor felt led to preach a sermon on the love of God.
a) He was frustrated because the subject was so broad and there were so many verses in the Bible that spoke of God’s love.
b) He prayed all week about how to make the message simple and effective.
c) Finally on Sunday, when the congregation gathered, he had all the lights extinguished.
d) He lit a candle and placed it before a small manger.
e) Then he lit another candle and placed it before a crudely woven crown of thorns.
f) Then he lit yet another candle and placed it before a rough wooden cross.
g) He turned to the people and said, “This is the love of God.”
7. On Christmas day, God gave Himself and it was His great love for you that motivated it!

II. The Greatest Gift (John 3:16b)
A. We are not always pleased with the gifts we receive.
1. The busiest days for retail stores takes place in the weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas.
2. The second busiest time is after Christmas when many of the gifts are exchanged or returned!
3. People end up exchanging some things because they don’t fit and some things because they just don’t work.

B. No one ever regrets receiving Jesus, the Greatest Gift.
1. John 3:16 not only tells us God’s motivation for giving us the greatest gift, but the quality of the gift as well.
a) He “so loved” us that He gave “His only begotten” or His “one and only Son” (NIV).
b) God did not create a Savior for us.
c) He didn’t create a perfect man.
d) He didn’t send an angel that looked like a man.
e) No, He sent His own precious Son!
2. The Bible tells us that Jesus is “the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person” (Hebrews 1:3).
a) Jesus said, “I and My Father are one.” (John 10:30)
b) Colossians 1:15 says, “He is the image [icon, photograph] of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.”
c) He said in John 14:9, “He who has seen Me has seen the Father.”
3. That’s why Isaiah foretold and the angel could say to Joseph, “they shall call His name Immanuel” or “God with us” (Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1:23).
a) God didn’t create a Savior.
b) He came Himself, in a human body to save us.
c) Martin Luther wrote, “The mystery of the humanity of Christ, that He sunk Himself into our flesh, is beyond all human understanding.”
4. During the darkest hours of WWII in England, the Luftwaffe dropped tons of bombs causing incredible death and destruction in London.
a) There was a real fear felt for the safety of King George VI and his family.
b) His staff made arrangements to transport the royal family to safety in Canada.
c) But King George refused to leave his country in their dark hour.
d) Days later newspapers reported that the king was inspecting a bombed out section of London after an air raid.
e) While walking through the rubble, an elderly man walked up to King George and said, “You are here, in the midst of this. You are indeed a good King.”
5. That’s the message of the manger at Christmas.
a) Our King, our Immanuel, our God is with us!
b) Jesus is God’s only begotten Son and He is with us!

III. The Result of the Greatest Gift (John 3:16c)
A. Many gifts today have no lasting result
1. Every year, children beg their parents for some toy or gift that they think they have to have.
a) They take it to Grandma’s house and they really enjoy it for a day or two.
b) Then, after a few weeks the child rarely touches the toy.
2. All of us have received gifts that are collecting dust somewhere in our homes.
B. Jesus, the Greatest Gift brings Eternal Results
1. But John3:16 says God gave His Son “that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”
2. The Baby in the manger became the Savior on the cross and the Lord of the empty tomb.
a) He didn’t come to give us a holiday.
b) He came to make us holy.
c) He didn’t come to give us a reason to exchange gifts at Christmas time.
d) He came to give us “everlasting life.”
e) He doesn’t want us to “perish.”
3. Salvation through Christ Jesus is God’s gift to all people.
a) Ephesians 2:8-9 “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.”
b) The gift that God has given to all mankind is the gift of salvation in Jesus Christ.
c) He has made it available to all, just for the taking.
4. The problem is that some people will not take it.
a) If you put a pot of money on a table with a sign which read, “free for the asking,” people would literally break their necks getting it.
b) But offer the salvation of God the same way, and many people ignore it.
c) Someday people will regret very deeply that they had the chance to take this gift, but they refused.
d) By then, unfortunately for them, it will be too late.
e) This gift comes only through the grace of God: it cannot be earned or worked for. (so no one can boast)
5. What is the definition of a gift?
a) A gift is something that is given to someone else.
b) A gift is given.
c) A gift is free of charge.
d) A gift cannot be earned.
e) A gift is by the grace of another – given just because they wanted to give it.
6. It was God who gave the first gift at Christmas.
a) He continues to give gifts every Christmas.
b) 60 years ago on this day, I received that gift of salvation from God!
c) I remember it like it was yesterday.
d) I will remember receiving it for all eternity!
e) It was the greatest gift I have ever received.
f) It was exactly what I needed to redeem me from my sin.
g) It is why Jesus was born in a manger on Christmas day and for the first time in my life I knew that great truth in my life.
7. The unique thing about this gift is that God gave it to those who were rebelling against Him.
a) Think about this for a moment: would you give a gift to someone who was driving nails through your hands, or who killed your son?
b) What a true example of grace! Unmerited favor for sure!
c) What a true example of mercy!
d) No one deserves this gift, but God gives it freely and willingly because He so loves us!
8. The greatest gift you can ever receive is salvation through Jesus.
a) He will change your life forever!
b) Jesus is the perfect fit.
c) You will never ever want to exchange Him.

“If our greatest need had been information, God would have sent us an educator;
If our greatest need had been technology, God would have sent us a scientist;
If our greatest need had been money, God would have sent us an economist;
If our greatest need had been pleasure, God would have sent us an entertainer;
But our greatest need was forgiveness, so God sent us a Savior” (author unknown).

C. Christmas Is All about Jesus!
1. It was the week before Christmas. Parking spaces were hard to come by.
2. There were long lines, crowded stores, rude people, and grossly inflated prices.
3. In one long checkout line, one man was heard to say, “They should kill the guy who started Christmas.”
4. One wise and godly woman in the line said, “They did- they hung Him on a cross.”
5. That is the REAL Christmas story!