The essence of the Christmas redemptive love story is not difficult to find. These are the words of Christ speaking of himself. "For God so loved the world that he gave . . ." You see, love initiates. Love takes action. God gave his son, a babe born in Bethlehem who 33 years later died on a Cross, "his one and only Son." Why? "that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." Love redeems what was lost . . . our life-lost to our life-eternal.
However, a redemptive love involves sacrifice - and Jesus takes us to a higher level of sacrificial giving for the sake of a redemptive love. Jesus taught, "My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends."
Certainly, at the cross Jesus practiced what he preached. But he also taught us to love our enemies. Would we lay down our life for an enemy? Amazingly, Jesus died for his enemies and not just his friends. Sounds treasonous, doesn't it? Talk about aiding the enemy! But that is exactly what he did.
In fact, Jesus went against the popular thought of his time. "You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I tell you: Love your enemies . . ." Christmas, when God invaded our world, and the Cross, when love was demonstrated, prove that God loves his enemies.
And guess what? We are his enemies! "You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. [That's us along with the worst the world holds in contempt!]
[Now check this out.] Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. [Yes, it could happen. But now look . . .] But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God's wrath through him!
For if, [here it is . . .] when we were God's enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!
[But wait, there is more . . .] Not only is this so, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation."
The greatest redemptive love story ever told was when someone died for his enemy. What a rare story that is . . . but Jesus did exactly that on the cross. The greatest love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his enemies. Merry Christmas!