A christmas advent ure

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John 3:16 

A Christmas ADVENTure” Sermon Series 


[Play Lindsey Stirling video, length - 4:45] 




Now, just imagine this. Lindsey Stirling has become 

one of the more recognizable violinists in the world 

in the last few years, joining on projects with the 

likes of Josh Groban, Pentatonix, John Legend, and 

other prominent musicians in addition to her own 



She’s among the most famous and most profitable 

YouTubers in the world. She’s now traveling the 

globe, packing out auditoriums. People pay money 

and stand in line just to meet her. 


But when this accomplished musician recently 

stepped into the 14


 Street station in lower 

Manhattan (Union Square, if you’re familiar with 

that area) and began playing the song from her new 

single, Hallelujah, people took little notice of her. 

Not only did they not recognize her, they didn’t care. 

They just went about their day, their business, their 

lives without being aware of who was in their midst. 


I can’t help but think of the circumstances of Jesus’ 

humble birth and how unnoticed it was by the 

masses. Yet all of earth and heaven, all of time and 

eternity converged in that stable in that moment for 

one reason—God Himself stepped onto the stage of 

history in human flesh and form to rescue His 

creation from the curse and consequences of sin.  


His birth split our understanding of time into 








., “before Christ” and “anno domini,” which 

is Latin for “in the year of our Lord.” Nothing and 

no one else has ever had such a dramatic impact on 

the world and never will, yet His birth was relatively 

obscure. Isn’t that incredible? 


Even still, more than 2,000 years later, with all of 

our Christmas decorations and songs and traditions, 

most people—some of us included—go about this 

season without an active awareness of who came to 

be with us when Christ was born. In all of the crazi-

ness of our Christmas chaos, we sometimes forget 

the why and the Who of Christmas. And Christmas 

becomes just another holiday instead of a holy day. 


Advent has been observed by Christians for centuries 

to prioritize the spiritual side of our celebration. 

There are many godless grinches that will steal 

Christmas from us if we’re not intentional. Advent 

helps us to be intentional. 


I’m preaching a series of sermons the four Sundays 

leading up to Christmas called, “A Christmas 

ADVENTure,” with “Advent” being emphasized in 



[As the candles are being lit]

 We called the first 

candle the C




… and we called the 

second candle the C




…we called the 

third candle the C




…and today as we 

give our attention to the 


 that was at the heart 

of Christ’s coming, we’re calling this fourth candle 

the C






Advent candles are used to represent the Light of the 

World piercing the darkness; and the closer we get to 

Christmas, the brighter the light grows as we light 

another candle each week.  


By the way, we’ll light the white Christ candle in the 

middle on Thursday afternoon and evening as part of 

our Christmas Eve candlelight services. We’ll bring 

our Advent celebration not merely to a close but to a 

culmination as we gather at 3:00 & 5:00 on our Mad-

ison Street campus. I hope you’re already planning 

to be a part of one of those worship opportunities, 

and I hope you’ll spread the word and bring friends 

and family with you. 


If you have a copy of the Word of God, open the 

Scriptures to one of the most recognizable verses in 

the Bible…

John 3:16

. That’s found in the New 

Testament of the Bible. The Old Testament is first or 

to the left; the New Testament is last or to the right. 

If you need to use the table of contents, don’t 

hesitate to do so. 

John 3:16




Have you ever noticed that the god that most atheists 

don’t believe in sounds nothing like the God of the 

Bible? I’m always intrigued by the distorted images 

that people have of God. Of course, most people I 

talk to who tell me how unreliable the Bible is have 

never actually read it…so whatever they think they 

know about God is second- and third-hand 



If there’s a summary statement of the Bible in the 

Bible, it’s 

John 3:16

. Jesus said, 

“For God so loved 

the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that 

whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have 

eternal life.”



If you will allow me a small measure of liberty, I 

want to apply this verse to Christmas. It’s bigger 

than that, of course; but in the context of Advent, 

let’s apply what is perhaps the most famous verse in 

the Bible—

John 3:16

—to what is perhaps the most 

famous Christian holy day—Christmas. And I trust 

that God will speak to the hearts of believer and non-

believer alike.  


First, think with me about God’s Christmas 


(And by Christmas, I’m referring to the birth of 


“For God so loved the world…” 

That is why 

Jesus was born…because of the love of God. Love is 

one of His most foundational and fundamental 



But when you think of God’s love, don’t diminish it 

by likening it to some sappy 70s love song. 


The love of God was active in Creation itself. God 

is self-existent, self-sufficient. We don’t add 

anything to Him; He doesn’t need us. And He 

existed in eternity past without us. But His love is so 

rich, He chose to share it beyond Himself…and we 

became part of His Creation. In fact, we’re the crown 

of His Creation because we alone bear God’s image. 

As human beings, we are created in the image of 




Genesis 3 

shows us that God’s original image-

bearers, Adam and Eve, chose rebellion over 

relationship and experienced an immediate 

disfigurement of God’s image. The image of God is 

eternal, so it could not be destroyed; but it was 

distorted. Yet God didn’t throw Adam and Eve away 

and start over. 


Because His love was not only active in His 

Creation but also in His Salvation. Immediately 

after sin entered into the human condition, God 

responded with love and mercy because He valued 

Adam and Eve. From the Garden of Eden, He 

launched His redemption plan to save people from 

their sins…and love is the reason. 


Do you have any idea how much God loves you? 

Not because of your performance, by the way. He 

doesn’t love you because of what you do or don’t do. 

He loves you. Period. 


And God’s Christmas 


 tells us how much He 

loves us. 

“For God so loved the world, that He gave 

His only begotten Son…”

 Christmas shows us the 

love of God through the Incarnation, when God 

became a man. And the Incarnation is a pillar of the 

Gospel Story. 

John 1

 tells us, 

“In the beginning was 

the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word 

was God….And the Word became flesh, and dwelt 

among us…”

 Paul wrote in 

Philippians 2


“although He existed in the form of God, [Jesus] did 

not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, 

but emptied Himself.”



Jesus, God the Son, was willing to vacate His throne 

in heaven, lay aside His Shekinah glory, step out of 

eternity into time, and become a man. And in so 

doing, He did what we simply cannot do—He 

limited Himself. 


Only God can limit His own knowledge, limit His 

own power, limit His own presence. 



Listen, when baby Jesus nursed at Mary’s 

breast, the Creator of the whole universe was 

dependent upon His own creation for 




When toddler Jesus was learning to walk, the 

One who made the law of gravity fell and rose 

at the mercy of the law He had created. 



When 12-year old Jesus sat in the Temple 

listening to the teachers and asking them 

questions, amazing them with His answers, 

adolescent Jesus was learning the very 

Scriptures that some 20 years later He would 

tell the Scribes and Pharisees, 

“…it is these 

that testify about Me.”



Jesus, God the Son, limited Himself by emptying 

Himself, not of His deity…but of perks & privileges 

of His deity. 


When we sing “Joy to the world, the Lord is come” 

this time of year and we sing about the “wonders of 

His love” in verse 4

, I’ll tell you…the greatest 

wonder of all to me is not how He came or when He 

came or even why He came. The greatest wonder of 

His love is that He came at all! 


But Jesus wasn’t born to occupy a Manger. He came 

to mount a rugged, Roman Cross. And this, too, was 

because of love. Jesus said in 

John 15:3

, speaking 

prophetically of His own death,

 “Greater love has 

no one than this, that one lay down his life for his 


Paul wrote to the 



chapter 5

verse 8

 of that great epistle: 

“But God demonstrates 

His own love toward us, in that while we were yet 

sinners, Christ died for us.”



So, from the Cradle to the Cross, we see the love of 

God in action. And this leads us finally to God’s 



“For God so loved the world, 

that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever 

believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal 


 Every person has a choice—eternal life or 

eternal death. By the way, when Jesus speaks of 

perishing, He’s not talking about ceasing to exist. 

He’s talking about hell. 


Jesus was born, lived, died, and lives forevermore—

all based in the love of God—so 

“that whoever 

believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal 


The Bible assumes that apart from God’s 

intervention, people will perish…they will go to hell. 

But God has intervened! That’s what we’re 

celebrating this month—Immanuel (“God with us”) 

coming to us. 


And, so, those who refuse to choose Christ and His 

forgiveness have chosen to perish…they have 

chosen eternal death over eternal life…they have 

chosen hell over heaven. And, listen, indecision is a 



This choice itself is based in the love of God, 

because God loves you so much that He wants you 

to love Him in return…but only if that’s what you 

really want. He could’ve programmed you to love 

Him as mandatory response like the behavior of a 

robot…but He didn’t do that. 

At the heart of the Christmas story is the love of 

God. Oh, I wish we had time today to go further with 

this and talk about loving one another and loving our 

enemies because 

“He first loved us.” 

But that 

sermon will have to wait until another time, although 

I’m guessing many of us already know those truths. 


Conclusion: If Christmas were a stew, every 

spoonful would taste of hope and peace and joy. But 

the dominant flavor would undoubtedly be love… 






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