by John F. Klem
“I love you.” “Love you.” “Love you tons.” “All my love.” These are just a few of the many expressions of love we use in our English language to communicate how we feel about our husband, wife, children, family members, or friends. In American culture, we make much of the feeling of love over the notions of commitment and sacrifice. Needless to say, the Christmas season, in the most ideal way, encourages both the feelings and acts of love. Yet nothing compares to God’s love for us expressed in the Christmas narratives of the gospel accounts.
In these narratives we see the tender love of a mother for her newborn child conceived and born into the world in such a miraculous manner. It is really hard to comprehend all that was going on in the minds and hearts of Mary and Joseph as they contemplated what had just happened and what was yet to come.
The manger scene preserved for us in Luke 2:7, 12, and 16 is a tender expression of God’s love. No matter how many times we think about it or how many different angles from which we look at it, we are awestruck by the love of God so demonstrated for us in this event. The love and sacrifice of the triune God for you and me is the Christianity differentiator. You may have heard it said that Christianity is not a religion but a relationship. The manger scene, as well as the cross and resurrection, affirms this.
These historical events are rooted in expressions of God’s covenant love for His people. According to Deuteronomy 32:8 and 9, Israel was distinguished from her neighbors on the basis of God’s relationship with His people. Old Testament scholar Daniel Block observes that the nations around Israel understood their deities to be primarily attached to specific geographic territories and only secondarily concerned about its inhabitants. God’s people are His primary concern.
When God’s commitment to His people was stressed by their rebellion and rejection of His Word, His love for them remained steadfast. This is pictured so beautifully in the story of Hosea and his adulterous wife. Gomer, like Israel, chased other lovers. Both suffered the consequences of their wanderings. And both enjoyed the commitment of a husband. Given this backstory, Hosea 2:14–20 is an amazing pledge of God’s love for His people.
Advent is an opportunity for us to think deeply about God’s love for us. The love of God declared for us in John 3:16 ultimately requires divine power requested by Paul in Ephesians 3:17 and 18 to fully grasp all the varied dimensions of it. Let’s pray for each other that the Lord will give us the strength to enjoy how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ for us.
John F. Klem is director of Regular Baptist Press.
Regular Baptist Press is committed to providing educational resources that point people of all ages to Christ not just at Christmas, but throughout the year. RBP offers a wide range of curriculum, VBS programs, Bible studies, books, and training seminars that are Biblically sound, cover the entirety of Scripture, and designed for spiritual growth.
- Read the entire series of Advent meditations.