John 3:16 is a very familiar verse: ‘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.’

This giving, this gift, involves a sending, a commissioning, a specific purpose. It is no arbitrary gift, no superfluous gift, no spur-of-the-moment gift.


Thus we read other references to God giving his Son:

‘For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him’ [John 3:17].

‘But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law, to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons’ [Galatians 4:4,5].

‘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. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins’ [1John 4:9-10].

‘And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Saviour of the world’ [1John 4:14].


And these referring to the purpose of the coming of the Christ into the world:

‘For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost’ [Luke 19:10].

‘I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full’ [John 10:10].

‘I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness’ [John 12:46].

‘Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners’ [1Timothy 1:15].


This gift, this grace, was planned and purposed before the beginning of time:

‘… he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself’ [Luke 24:27].

‘For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ’ [2Corinthians 1:20]

‘the mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations, but is now disclosed … the mystery of God, namely, Christ …’ [Colossians 1:26, 2:2].

‘This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Saviour, Christ Jesus’ [2Timothy 1:9,10].

‘… the Lamb that was slain before the creation of the world’ [Revelation 13:8].

We are about to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. As we do may we reflect on the immense grace expressed in this incarnation: that here an event planned and purposed by God before time began comes to pass, visibly, audibly, tangibly, in human time, in human space, in a human person. By this gift, by this grace, the Son of God comes to do the will of the Father, and by that will we are saved [Hebrews 10:8-14].

© Rosemary Bardsley 2009