Jesus, the Gift of God’s Hope (Matt 1:18-25)

Jesus, the Gift of God’s Hope (Matt 1:18-25)

Prepared and preached by pastor Steve Rhodes for the Saturday night service at Bethel Friends Church in Poland, OH on Saturday, December 26, and Sunday, December 27, 2020

They were always waiting for a Savior in the Old Testament. Are you waiting for a Savior? Do you know that you need a Savior?

Watch this clip

Nativity Story: Angel coming to Joseph

Read with me Matthew 1:18-25

18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. 19 And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. 20 But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” 22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet:

23 “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,
    and they shall call his name Immanuel”

(which means, God with us). 24 When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife, 25 but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus.

My theme today is: Jesus, the gift of God’s hope

  1. Jesus will be born.
    • They were waiting for a Savior and He was to be born.
    • This is an amazing prophesy to Joseph. Here he has just received the news that his fiancé is pregnant, and not by him, but now he finds out this baby is the Messiah. Wow!
    • Joseph went from gloom to hope.
      • What Does Hope Do For Mankind?
        • Hope shines brightest when the hour is darkest.
        • Hope motivates when discouragement comes.
        • Hope energizes when the body is tired.
        • Hope sweetens while bitterness bites.
        • Hope sings when all melodies are gone.
        • Hope believes when evidence is eliminated.
        • Hope listens for answers when no one is talking.
        • Hope climbs over obstacles when no one is helping.
        • Hope endures hardship when no one is caring.
        • Hope smiles confidently when no one is laughing.
        • Hope reaches for answers when no one is asking.
        • Hope presses toward victory when no one is encouraging.
        • Hope dares to give when no one is sharing.
        • Hope brings the victory when no one is winning. (John Maxwell from Think on These Things)
    • Joseph had hope and so do we. Jesus is our hope.
  1. Jesus will save us from our sins.
    • What brings salvation?
    • What, or who, are you trusting in?
    • Sometimes we think we don’t even need a Savior. Realize that when we mess with salvation we are trifling with the holiness of God. We need salvation because we sinned against a holy, righteous God. Psalm 51:4: against, you only have I sinned…
    • We need a Savior because of God’s holiness and when we say things such as “Everyone goes to Heaven with or without Jesus,” or we say, “there is no hell.” This means that we are messing with the cross, yes, but we are also messing with the holiness of God. We are changing all of Scripture, we are changing the whole Old Testament. The Bible says that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). The Bible says that the penalty for sin is death (Romans 6:23). The Bible says that Jesus is the way the truth and the life and no one comes to the Father except by Him (John 14:6). The Bible teaches that sin separates us from God (Isaiah 59:2). The Bible says that God will not let the guilty go unpunished (2 Thess 1:8-9). Yet, the Bible teaches that God loves the people of the world (John 3:16). That is a dilemma. God can’t tell a lie or He wouldn’t be God (Numbers 23:19). God doesn’t change His mind (1 Sam 15:29). That is why God sent Jesus. The guilty must go punished. Jesus took our punishment on the cross. The penalty of sin is death but the free gift of God is eternal life through Jesus, who is the way, the truth and the life.
    • Jesus saves
  2. Jesus will be Immanuel, which means God with us.
    • Do you ever feel alone? I remember being in 6th grade and I played football. I was dropped off at a game and my parents drove away and then I thought I needed something and it was too late, my parents were gone. I felt all alone. I can go back a few years earlier. I must have watched children cry when my mom dropped my older brother off at preschool. I thought I wouldn’t do that. I always saw the children get dropped off at preschool and they cried and cried and cried. I remember that fear when my mom dropped me off and I cried as well. Fast forward some 15 years. My parents dropped me off at college in Georgia and drove away and I think we all cried.
    • Fast forward another eleven years. I was serving as a pastor of a church with a childcare and preschool. My office was in the main hallway. There were many days I heard children crying as their parents left them those first few days.
    • There is a fear in being alone, isn’t there?
    • A. W. Tozer shares: Most of the world’s great souls have been lonely.[1]
    • What is it like being alone? We are not alone. We have God with us. Jesus is our hope and He is with us.
    • Neil Strait shares: Loneliness is … spending your days alone with your thoughts, your discouragements, and having no one to share them with. [2]
    • You know that in Christ you can share your thoughts with Jesus anytime you want?
    • Think of how amazing it is that God is with us as Christians. The term is Immanuel and the term for God becoming a man is the “incarnation.” Winston Churchill described Russia as “A riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma.” That’s appropriate to describe the Incarnation also.[3]

Made Flesh

After the bright beam of hot annunciation

fused heaven with earth, His searing,

sharply focused light went out for a while,

eclipsed in amniotic gloom.

His cool immensity of splendor, His universal grace,

small folded in a warm, dim, female space,

the Word stern sentenced to be nine months dumb.

Infinity walled in a womb until the next enormity,

the mighty.

After submission to a woman’s pains,

helpless in a barn bare floor,

first tasting bitter earth.

But now I in Him surrender

to the crush and cry of birth.

Because eternity was closeted in time,

He is my open door to forever.

From His imprisonment my freedoms grow, find wings.

Part of His body, I transcend this flesh.

From His sweet silence my mouth sings.

Out of His dark I glow. My life,

as His, slips through death’s mesh times bar,

joins hands with heaven, speaks with stars.


(Luci Shaw, Listen to the Green)[4]

  1. You and I, we are not alone.


Charles Swindoll:

Christmas comes each year to draw people in from the cold.

Like tiny frightened sparrows, shivering in the winter cold, many live their lives on the barren branches of heartbreak, disappointment, and loneliness, lost in thoughts of shame, self-pity, guilt, or failure. One blustery day follows another, and the only company they keep is the fellow-strugglers who land on the same branches, confused and unprotected.

We try so hard to attract them into the warmth. Week after week church bells ring. Choirs sing. Preachers preach. Lighted churches send out their beacon. But nothing seems to bring in those who need warmth the most.

Then, as the year draws to a close, Christmas offers its wonderful message. Immanuel. God with us. He who resided in Heaven, co-equal and co-eternal with the Father and the Spirit, willingly descended into our world. He breathed our air, felt our pain, knew our sorrows, and died for our sins. He didn’t come to frighten us, but to show us the way to warmth and safety. . . .

Do you know Christ?

Luke 9:23

God created us to be with Him. (Genesis 1-2)

Our sin separated us from God. (Genesis 3)

Sins cannot be removed by good deeds (Gen 4-Mal 4)

Paying the price for sin, Jesus died and rose again (Matthew – Luke)

Everyone who trusts in Him alone has eternal life (John – Jude)

Life that’s eternal means we will be with Jesus forever (Revelation 22:5)

[1] Charles R. Swindoll, The Tale of the Tardy Oxcart and 1501 Other Stories (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2016), 354.

[2] Charles R. Swindoll, The Tale of the Tardy Oxcart and 1501 Other Stories (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2016), 354.

[3] Charles R. Swindoll, The Tale of the Tardy Oxcart and 1501 Other Stories (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2016), 295.

[4] Charles R. Swindoll, The Tale of the Tardy Oxcart and 1501 Other Stories (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2016), 296.

God in a Manger

I recently read an author talk about this story:

Soren Kierkegaard, the great Danish theologian of another century, tells a story of a prince who wanted to find a maiden suitable to be his queen. One day while running an errand in the local village for his father, he passed through a poor section. As he glanced out the windows of the carriage his eyes fell upon a beautiful peasant maiden. During the ensuing days he often passed by the young lady and soon fell in love. But he had a problem. How would he seek her hand?

He could order her to marry him. But even a prince wants his bride to marry him freely and voluntarily and not through coercion. He could put on his most splendid uniform and drive up to her front door in a carriage drawn by six horses. But if he did this he would never be certain that the maiden loved him or was simply overwhelmed with all of the splendor. As you might have guessed, the prince came up with another solution. He would give up his kingly robe. He moved, into the village, entering not with a crown but in the garb of a peasant. He lived among the people, shared their interests and concerns, and talked their language. In time the maiden grew to love him for who he was and because he had first loved her.

The author concludes: This very simple, almost child like story, written by one of the most brilliant minds of our time explains what we Christians mean by the incarnation. God came and lived among us. I am glad that this happened for two reasons. One, it shows beyond a shadow of a doubt that God is with us, that He is on our side, and that He loves us. Secondly, it gives us a first hand view of what the mind of God is really all about. When people ask what God is like, we, as Christians, point to the person of Jesus Christ.[1] 

Let’s read Luke 2:1-7:

In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria. And all went to be registered, each to his own town. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.

  1. Jesus, our hope is born.
    • “Mommy, Daddy, tell me a story.” Have you heard that recently? What about, “Grandma, grandpa, tell me a story,” have you heard that recently?
    • I love stories. I am drawn to stories. My children love stories. I have some of their books up here. I remember when my children were younger and could barely talk, they would just come and hand me a book. Mercedes would come to me and say, “Can you read Little House on the Prairie to me?” Abigail would come to me and hand me a book and ask me to read it. They love stories too.
    • Still most every night I read to them before bed.
    • It is true that kids grow up quick. I remember when Mercedes was in preschool and she was learning all about books. She liked to play teacher. I heard her at home telling Abigail all about books, “This is the cover and this is the back. This is the spine; the spine holds the book together. Who draws the pictures? The illustrator.” Later, we heard Abigail say the same things. It was great. Of course, now she is in third grade, so she still plays teacher, but she is trying to teach more advanced things.
    • The Bible is full of stories and we can read that Jesus told many stories. In fact, the Bible is mostly stories. The Bible is many short stories with one grand story. We have the grand story of God’s love for us and His plan to save us from our sins. That is the grand story. There are short stories. The short stories tell:
      • How God created us good;
      • How humans sinned against God;
      • How God sent Jesus to be born of a virgin and die on the cross for our sins;
      • How some day God will make all things right.
  2. How is Jesus our hope?
    • This is a true story; unlike the fantasies we like to read (and I love fantasy stories).
    • This is the story of the birth of the Anointed One, that is what Messiah means, Anointed One.
    • Jesus, born of the virgin Mary will save us from our sins, the wrong things we do.
    • Jesus is our hope in that He will save us.
    • Jesus is our hope in that He will eventually bring peace.
    • Jesus is our hope in that He will restore all creation and He will be the perfect King.
    • Jesus is our hope in that He is called Immanuel and that means God with us.
    • Jesus is our forever hope.

I hope with Christmas we take comfort and great joy in celebrating Jesus, our Lord’s birth. The Hope of the world was born. All through the Old Testament the Bible is filled with stories and all these stories are about people looking for the Messiah and now He has been born. Jesus born in a stable which, was a barn, and laid in a manger, which was a feeding trough, this is the story of how the Hope of the world entered the world. He is Jesus Christ our Lord. This is the story of how shepherds came to worship Him and the angels worshipped Him too. This is God becoming a man.The Hope of the world was born in Bethlehem and we celebrate that at Christmas time.

The Hope of the world was born in Bethlehem and we celebrate that at Christmas time.

Our hope has come and He is Jesus.

I don’t know about you but many times I can focus my hope on things, but Jesus is my forever hope. I just need to keep telling myself that.

I don’t know about you, but I can easily focus my hope on politicians, but Jesus is our forever hope, again, I need to remind myself of this.

I don’t know about you, but I can put my hope in money. This is only temporary hope and Jesus takes care of my eternal, my forever, needs. He is my forever hope.

I don’t know about you, but I can put my hope in people, but there is only One person, Jesus, who will never let me down. Jesus is our forever hope.

These are all good things and there is nothing wrong with money, things, politics, people, but they do not take care of our forever.

Placing our hope in things can overwhelm us.

A few years ago, I was talking with a Christian athlete who was always trying to please the coach. It helped her when she realized that she only needs to please God. It helped her when she realized she plays for an audience of One.

Jesus is our Lord, not money, things, people, or even our boss. Jesus is our forever hope.

Jesus became a human being. In Philp Yancey’s book, The Jesus I Never Knew he shares this:

In London, looking toward the auditorium’s royal box where the queen and her family sat, I caught glimpses of the more typical way rulers stride through the world: with bodyguards, and a trumpet fanfare, and a flourish of bright clothes and flashing jewelry. Queen Elizabeth II had recently visited the United States, and reporters delighted in spelling out the logistics involved: her four thousand pounds of luggage included two outfits for every occasion, a mourning outfit in case someone died, forty pints of plasma, and white kid leather toilet seat covers. She brought along her own hairdresser, two valets, and a host of other attendants. A brief visit of royalty to a foreign country can easily cost twenty million dollars.

In meek contrast, God’s visit to earth took place in an animal shelter with no attendants present and nowhere to lay the newborn king but a feed trough. Indeed, the event that divided history, and even our calendars, into two parts may have had more animal than human witnesses. A mule could have stepped on him. “How silently, how silently, the wondrous gift is given.”

For just an instant the sky grew luminous with angels, yet who saw that spectacle? Illiterate hirelings who watched the flocks of others, “nobodies” who failed to leave their names. Shepherds had such a randy reputation that proper Jews lumped them together with the “godless,” restricting them to the outer courtyards of the temple. Fittingly, it was they whom God selected to help celebrate the birth of one who would be known as the friend of sinners.[1]

He came to save us. He came to live with us. He came to set us free. He will come again and bring peace and make things right. He is the Savior. This is the story of His birth.

Christmas is all about Jesus’ birth. God became a human being so that He could die for our salvation.

This is good news. I notice recently that all of the news headlines are negative. They are all bad news. Recently, I read about a book titled: “Stop Reading the News” by Rolf Dobelli. He shares the following:

Bad news is perceived as more relevant than good news. Negative information has twice the impact that positive information does. In psychology, this is called negativity bias, and it can be observed in even one-year-old infants. They respond more sensitively to negative stimuli than to positive ones. Adults are no different. A stock falling by ten per cent makes us twice as unhappy as a stock climbing by ten per cent makes us happy. Negativity bias is innate. The news media hasn’t inculcated into us our weakness for negative information; it simply exploits this weakness in expert fashion, delivering a stream of shocking stories that are tailor-made for our anxious brains.

Then he digs deeper:

The news continually stimulates our sympathetic nervous system, a part of our autonomic nervous system. Psychological stressors lead to the release of adrenaline by the hypothalamus. Adrenaline then leads to a rise in cortisol. So, every garish story can lead to the production of this stress hormone. Cortisol floods our bloodstream, weakening the immune system and inhibiting the production of growth hormones. By consuming the news, you’re putting your body under stress. Chronic stress leads to anxiety and digestive and growth problems and leaves us to infection. Other potential side effects of news consumption include panic attacks, aggression, tunnel vision and emotional desensitization. In short, consuming the news puts your psychological and physical health at risk

According to a study by the American Psychological Association, half of all adults suffer from the symptoms of stress caused by news consumption.[1]

So, that is the negative news. But Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem is good news. This is good news to believe and to share. Focus on the good news these next few days. Focus on the good news this next year.

One of the most exciting things that you can do while celebrating Jesus’ birthday is to make it your spiritual birthday as well. You can accept Jesus’ free gift of salvation right now.

God’s presence is the gift here, and you just have to unwrap the gift. 

The Bible says that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). The Bible says that the penalty for sin is death (Romans 6:23). The Bible says that Jesus is the way the truth and the life and no one comes to the Father except by Him. (John 14:6). The Bible teaches that sin separates us from God (Isaiah 59:2). The Bible says that God will not let the guilty go unpunished (2 Thess 1:8-9). Yet, the Bible teaches that God loves the people of the world (John 3:16). That is a dilemma. God can’t tell a lie, or He wouldn’t be God (Numbers 23:19). God doesn’t change His mind (1Sam 15:29). That is why God sent Jesus. The guilty must go punished. Jesus took our punishment on the cross. The penalty of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Jesus, who is the way, the truth and the life.



[1] Yancey, Philip. The Jesus I Never Knew (pp. 36-37). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

[1] Read this on Dr Scot McKnight’s Blog through Christianity Today. December 10, 2020:

Jesus the gift of God’s Love (John 3:1–17; 7:45–52; 19:38–40)

Jesus the gift of God’s Love (John 3:1–17; 7:45–52; 19:38–40)

Prepared and preached for and at Bethel Friends Church on Saturday, December 12 and Sunday, December 13, 2020

I will be talking about John 3. Please turn there. Children are dismissed to junior church.

What would we do without light?

How much does light change things?

Think about times when you have been in the dark and then all of a sudden the lights come back on. Maybe you were living through a power outage. Have you ever driven on dark roads? I drove two hours each way to seminary. I did that two days a week. When I was driving on interstate 75 through Cincinnati things were lit up and it was easy to stay awake. But then when I got south of Cincinnati, into the hills of Kentucky, it got dark really quickly.

Light helps us see, but more than that, light also makes us more comfortable, correct? In 2007, I took my youth ministry on a mission trip in Tampa, Florida. We left Cincinnati around midnight. I took over driving in the mountains of Tennessee around 2:30 in the morning. I could see the road, but I was uncomfortable at places not being able to see the broader area around me. Light makes us more comfortable.

Light can bring joy, can’t it? How do you feel when you see Christmas lights?

Today, we will see Jesus described as the “light” of the world.

This year, we have been talking about Jesus, the indescribable gift.

Two weeks ago, I talked about Jesus, the gift of God’s grace.

Last week, we talked about Jesus the gift of God’s Truth.

Today, we will talk about Jesus the gift of God’s Love.

On Christmas Eve we will talk about Jesus, the Indescribable Gift, God in the Manger (Luke 2:1-20; 2 Cor. 9:15).

On December 27 we will talk about Jesus, the Gift of God’s Hope.

My theme today:

Jesus tells Nicodemus that He is the gift of God’s love, the Light of the World, Nicodemus becomes a disciple (John 7:50).


Are you seeking the Light of the world? Are you seeking Jesus?

I am not going to read the whole passage. I will summarize parts and read a few verses here and there. Please turn to John 3.

  1. Jesus teaches that we must be born again (John 3:1-8).
    1. In verse 1 we see there was a man of the Pharisees. That clues us into some things. He is a pharisee, being a religious teacher.
    2. The verse lists him as a ruler of the Jews. He was on the Sanhedrin, which would be like their supreme court.
    3. We only see Nicodemus a couple more times in the Bible: John 7:50; 19:39
    4. He came to Jesus at night which is why some call him “nick at night.”
    5. He calls Jesus Rabbi, which means “teacher.”
    6. He begins acknowledging that Jesus is from God.
    7. He refers to Jesus’ miracles.
    8. No one can do the signs unless God is with Him.
    9. In verse 3, we now see Jesus answers and the conversation begins.
    10. We must be born again. John 3:3: Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
    11. There was something wrong with the first birth.
    12. The first birth was into the fallen world. We need born of the Spirit.
    13. In verse 4 we see that Nicodemus was very confused.
    14. Nicodemus was being very literal. He thought we would have to enter the womb again, picture that as an adult.
    15. So, in verse 5 Jesus clarifies we must be born of water and the Spirit in order to enter the kingdom of God. Verse 5 reads: Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.
    16. This is restating verse 3, but now mentioning what “born again means.”
    17. There are two key Old Testament texts about this.
    18. Isaiah 44:3 uses poetic parallelism to equate water and the spirit. The Old Testament oftentimes talked about the Holy Spirit being poured out like water (Proverbs 1:23; Joel 2:28-29; Zechariah 12:10).
    19. Ezek 36:25-27 is the other one. In that Passage the Lord is talking about cleansing: There the Lord is affirming the promise of the new covenant to Israel, and He says,
    20. I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances.[1]
    21. This is regeneration.
    22. We had something wrong with our first birth so Jesus gives us a rebirth. Look at 2 Cor 5:17: Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.
    23. Verse 6 continues about birth. Born of the flesh is flesh and spirit is spirit. This means that the flesh represents our sin nature and the Spirit represents our re-birth.
    24. In verses 7-8 Jesus tells him not to be amazed about what He has said. Jesus compares the Holy Spirit to the wind. We know the wind is there, but we do not know where it has come from or is going, and that is the same with the Holy Spirit. Wind and Spirit translate the same Greek and Hebrew words.
  2. Jesus teaches the dichotomy between our ways and the Spirit’s ways (John 3:9-15).  
    1. Jesus rebukes Nicodemus for not understanding these things. In verse 9 he asks how these things can be and in verse 10 Jesus says that he is the teacher of Israel and yet he does not understand.
    2. Look at verses 11-15: Truly, truly, I say to you, we speak of what we know, and bear witness to what we have seen, but you do not receive our testimony. 12 If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you heavenly things? 13 No one has ascended into heaven except he who descended from heaven, the Son of Man. 14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, 15 that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.
    3. Jesus is speaking of what He knows and has seen. Jesus uses the plural “we” which is mostly referring to the Trinity.
    4. In verse 12 Jesus is saying how can He teach him more when he does not understand things so far.
    5. In verses 13-15 we see that Jesus has ascended into Heaven and descended from Heaven.
    6. Jesus must be lifted up like the serpent in the wilderness.
    7. Jesus is alluding to Numbers 21:9 and the bronze serpent that saved the people.
    8. Jesus will be lifted up on the cross to save them and us. This is God’s love.
  3. God’s love sent Jesus, the Light of the world, but some loved the darkness rather than the light (John 3:14-21).
    1. Let’s read verses 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.
    2. I am using the ESV today because it flows better.
    3. You will notice that the ESV does not use the word “begotten” but instead “only.” I prefer “one and only.” A few years ago I did extensive research on that Greek term and shared that with you. There is more about that in the notes which I will not share at this time.
    4. Some think “begotten” is better because it means that Jesus was not born, but that is incorrect. “Begotten” has been controversial in the past going all the way back to the Arian controversy. You can look that up on your own, or talk to me later.
    5. The best translation is “unique” not begotten.
    6. God gave his only “begotten” Son, or His “one and only Son” or His “unique” Son.
    7. I was required to study Greek in seminary but I am not that good with it so I contacted two Greek scholars to look into that specific word. The Jehovah’s Witness like the word “Begotten” best because it literally means that Jesus was born. It literally means, “only born.” Again, that is the Arian controversy.
    8. But Jesus was never born we know that. One Greek scholar, Dr. Long from Asbury Theological Seminary believes “Unique” is the best translation of the adjective. The Greek adjective from which we get “begotten” is monogenḗs and literally means “one and only” or “only born.” This is a case where tracing a words derivation is not helpful because as I stated Jesus was never born. This adjective was also applied to Isaac that Isaac was the only monogenḗs of Abraham. Of course, Isaac was born, and Abraham did have another son. Yet, Isaac was the child of promise.
    9. So, as we consider which term is best to translate the Greek remember that the Greek adjective monogenḗs literally does mean only born.
    10. However, also remember we do not form Theology based on one verse. We form Theology, in this case, Christology, based on the whole Bible. Look at John 1:1-14 and we see that Jesus was not born.
    11. Notice that God loved.
    12. Notice further that God loved to the point where God gave.
    13. One Bible scholar points out: The Greek construction puts some emphasis on the actuality of the gift: it is not ‘God loved enough to give,’ but ‘God loved so that he gave.
    14. The same scholar continues The construction of the Greek sentence stresses the intensity of God’s love. He gave His best, His unique and loved Son. The Jews believed that God loved the children of Israel, but John affirmed that God loved all people regardless of race.[2]
    15. God so loved the world that He gave His unique Son…The rest of the passage picks up the purpose: that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.
    16. Salvation is opened to all people but only through Jesus. Look at John 3:18: 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
    17. Rejecting Jesus is rejecting God the Father.
    18. In verses 19-21 we see that Jesus came into the world as the Light, but people loved darkness rather than the light.
    19. People who are in sin, don’t want the Light to expose their sin. But people who do what is true come to the Light with the purpose that they may clearly see that His works have been carried out in God.
  4. Remember that this is a message first given to Nicodemus.
    1. It seems that Nicodemus became a disciple.
    2. In John 7:45-52 Nicodemus defends Jesus.
    3. In John 19:38-40 Nicodemus is at Jesus’ burial.
    4. Jesus came as God with us to be the gift of God’s love.
    5. This passage is all about Jesus declaring God’s love.
  5. Applications:
    1. Nicodemus was the teacher of Israel (verse 1 and verse 10) and yet he did not understand, we must seek the Lord to truly understand what God is doing.
    2. We must understand that we need to be born again. Our first birth had a sin problem, we need a new heart. We need born again (verses 3-5).
    3. We cannot understand spiritual truths, we cannot seek the Kingdom of God without a re-birth.
    4. We must trust the Lord. The Lord speaks of what He knows (verse 11).
      1. Too often we may doubt not realizing that the Lord knows the whole picture.
        1. We must understand that we really cannot understand.
        1. Oftentimes, we are confounded by spiritual truths so we doubt them and that is not right.
    5. The Holy Spirit has a will, we can see the works of the Holy Spirit, but we will not know where He comes from or is going. God is sovereign.
    6. God loved so He gave. We must sacrifice for those that we love too.
    7. We must always trust in Jesus for eternal life.
    8. Jesus is the only way to Heaven, we must share this Truth.
    9. We must look for every opportunity to share the Gospel.
    10. We must set the example for other believers.
    11. We must seek truth.
    12. We must seek the Light of the world.


Are any of you giving away Christmas gifts this year?

Make sure you share Jesus with the gifts. Share the true message of Christmas, God’s love.



[2] Tom Constable, Tom Constable’s Expository Notes on the Bible (Galaxie Software, 2003), Jn 3:16–18.

Jesus, the gift of God’s Truth (John 1:14-18; 8:31-32; 14:1-6)

Jesus, the gift of God’s Truth (John 1:14-18; 8:31-32; 14:1-6)

Prepared and preached by Pastor Steve Rhodes for and at Bethel Friends Church on Saturday, December 5 and Sunday, December 6

Children are dismissed to junior church

We will be going to John 14 in just a minute.

We know the poem “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas” but listen to this one.

’Twas the Night before Jesus Came

’Twas the night before Jesus came and all through the house

Not a creature was praying, not one in the house.

Their Bibles were lain on the shelf without care

In hopes that Jesus would not come in there.

The children were dressing to crawl into bed,

Not once ever kneeling or bowing a head,

And Mom in her rocker with baby on her lap

Was watching the Late Show while I took a nap.

When out of the East there arose such a clatter,

I sprang to my feet to see what was the matter.

Away to the window I flew like a flash

Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash!

When what to my wondering eyes should appear

But angels proclaiming that Jesus was here.

With a light like the sun sending forth a bright ray

I knew in a moment that this must be THE DAY!

The light of His face made me cover my head

It was Jesus! Returning just like He had said.

And though I possessed worldly wisdom and wealth,

I cried when I saw Him in spite of myself.

In the Book of Life which He held in His hand

Was written the name of every saved man.

He spoke not a word as He searched for my name;

When He said, “It’s not here,” my head hung in shame.

The people whose names had been written with love

He gathered to take to His Father above.

With those who were ready He rose without sound

While all of the rest were left standing around.

I fell to my knees, but it was too late;

I had waited too long and thus sealed my fate.

I stood and I cried as they rose out of sight.

Oh, if only I had been ready tonight.

In the words of this poem the meaning is clear;

The coming of Jesus is soon drawing near.

There’s only one life and when comes the last call—

We’ll find that the Bible was true after all!


Jesus is the way, the Truth and the Life. Do we believe that? How do we show that with our Christmas traditions?

How important is truth to us?

Mrs. Fisher was recovering from surgery and got a card from her fourth-grade class: “Dear Mrs. Fisher, Your fourth-grade class wishes you a speedy recovery by a vote of 15–14.”

—Howard G. Hendricks, Say It with Love[2]

Chuck Swindoll writes:

When Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn was awarded the Nobel Prize in literature, he concluded his speech by quoting a Russian proverb: “One word of truth outweighs the whole world.” If I could change a couple of words in that proverb, I would say, “One person of truth impacts the whole world.”[3]

Swindoll writes: In a world of incessant lies, Jesus embodied absolute, unvarnished truth. Jesus as the source of all truth. Jesus never lied or manipulated anyone. He never left a false impression or appeared to be someone He wasn’t. As we believe and follow His teachings, we will know what’s real and valuable in a world of falsehoods and fakes. Jesus—Truth in the flesh—will lead us to truth’s treasures: eternal life and freedom from sin. If you’re searching for truth, be assured that in Jesus your search has ended!”[1]

This year, over the next several weeks I wish to talk about Jesus the indescribable gift.

Last week, I talked about Jesus, the gift of God’s grace.

Today, we will talk about Jesus the gift of God’s Truth.

Then, we will talk about Jesus the gift of God’s Love

On Christmas Eve we will talk about: Jesus, the Indescribable Gift, God in the Manger (Luke 2:1-20; 2 Cor. 9:15)

On December 27th, we will talk about Jesus, the Gift of God’s Hope

Let’s turn to John 14:1-6.

My theme is Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life.

My application: Trust Him.

John 14:1-6: (ESV)

“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. And you know the way to where I am going.” Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

  • Jesus comforts the disciples encouraging them to trust Him.
    • John MacArthur shares: This whole chapter centers in the promise that Christ is the One who gives the believer comfort, not only in his future return but also in the present with the ministry of the Holy Spirit (v. 26). The scene continues to be the upper room where the disciples had gathered with Jesus before he was arrested. Judas had been dismissed (13:30) and Jesus had begun his valedictory address to the remaining 11. The world of the disciples was about to be shattered; they would be bewildered, confused, and ridden with anxiety because of the events that would soon transpire. Anticipating their devastation, Jesus spoke to comfort their hearts.[4]
    • This passage is known as the upper room discourse from John chapters 13- 17
    • Jesus has told them that He will die. The disciples must have been discouraged. Jesus had said that He would die in the previous verses.
    • The disciples had traveled with Jesus for some 3 years. Jesus was a close friend and teacher.
    • They shared a special relationship. In fact, students of Rabbis would even call the teacher/Rabbi father. Later on, in John 15:15 Jesus calls them friends.
    • Jesus told His students and friends that soon He would die. Within a day of this He will die.
    • John 13:1-17 included the foot washing.
    • In John 13:18-30 Jesus predicted His betrayal.
    • In John 13:38 Jesus predicted being denied by Peter.
    • Jesus told them all of this difficult news and now we come to John 14.
    • Jesus tries to encourage them.
    • Do not let your heart be troubled. This is a command.
    • Jesus says “Do Not let your heart be troubled,” or “distressed.”
    • NET Bible: The same verb is used to describe Jesus’ own state in John 11:33, 12:27, and 13:21. Jesus is looking ahead to the events of the evening and the next day, his arrest, trials, crucifixion, and death, which will cause his disciples extreme emotional distress.[5]
    • Jesus thinks empathetically of how they may feel.
    • Jesus says “you believe in God, believe also in Me…”
    • Belief means to trust.
    • Jesus is encouraging them to Trust in Him.
      • Do we trust Him?
      • Do we trust Him when we may face a difficult time?
      • Do we trust Him when we have the bad news?
      • Do we trust Him with the cancer diagnosis?
      • Do we trust Him when it seems like the world is crumbling?
      • For them, their discipler and friend said He was going to die, their world was falling apart. Jesus says to trust Him.
    • In verse 2 Jesus has apparently told them before that He is going to prepare a place for them. This could be from John 13:36. He says now, His Father’s house has many rooms. He would NOT have told them that if He did not know.
    • This is a reason to trust Him.
    • In John 14:1 Jesus told them to believe Him, to trust in Him, and now He expands on why they can trust Him.
    • Jesus is going to prepare a place for them.
    • The word often translated as “mansion” just means “dwelling places.” It likely has the idea of a big building with lots of rooms.
    • Jesus is preparing a place for us through His death and resurrection.
    • In verses 2-3 Jesus is going to prepare a place for us and He will come back.
    • John MacArthur and others believe Jesus’ return is the pre-tribulation rapture. He will come back in the rapture to take us to be with Him.
    • In verse 4 Jesus says they know the way. He is the way. They know Jesus so they know the way.
      • This is the same for us. If we know Jesus, we know the way to Heaven.
      • How do we get to Heaven? We must know Jesus. He is the way (verse 6).
      • The way He was going was the cross. The NET Bible note below: Where he was going was back to the Father, and they could not follow him there, but later he would return for them and they could join him then. The way he was going was via the cross. This he had also mentioned previously (e.g., 12:32) although his disciples did not understand at the time (cf. 12:33). As Jesus would explain in v. 6, although for him the way back to the Father was via the cross, for his disciples the “way” to where he was going was Jesus himself.[6]
  • Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. Look at verses 5-6.
    • In verse 5 Thomas speaks up.
    • Thomas is bold in asking the question.
    • Thomas was bold, we think of him as “doubting Thomas” but look at John 11:16: So Thomas, called the Twin, said to his fellow disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.” That was when they were going to go near Jerusalem for Lazarus but people wanted to kill Jesus.
    • Russell Moore writes: This is when, I expect, that murmuring commenced, and one can easily see why. Thomas is wrongly caricatured as “doubting” in our age, but Thomas, it seems to me, displays a need for certainty lacking in, say, Simon Peter, who often believes he can debate or sword fight his way out of difficulty. Thomas probably realized how often this band of disciples misunderstood Jesus’ sayings and parables, not to mention how often they fell asleep while he was praying. Thomas probably wondered if Jesus had given directions for them to meet somewhere on a mountain, to recite a particular incantation, in order to be received into this heavenly reality about which he was talking. If so, no one seemed to know what these directions were.[7]
    • In verse 6 Jesus clarifies.
    • He is the way.
    • He is the truth.
    • He is the life.
    • No one comes to the Father but through Him.
    • He is the only way.
    • This is an exclusive statement.
    • John 10:9: I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture.[8]
    • Romans 5:2: Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God[9]
    • Ephesians 2:18: For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father.
    • Hebrews 10:20: by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh…
    • 1 John 5:20: And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true; and we are in him who is true, in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life.
    • See also John 1:14
    • “Without the way there is no going, without the truth there is no knowing, without the life there is no living.”[10]
    • MacArthur shares: This is the sixth “I am” statement of Jesus in John (see 6:35; 8:12; 10:7, 9; 10:11, 14; 11:25; 15:1, 5). In response to Thomas’s query (14:4), Jesus declared that he is the way to God because he is the truth of God (1:14) and the life of God (1:4; 3:15; 11:25). In this verse, the exclusiveness of Jesus as the only approach to the Father is emphatic. Only one way, not many ways, exist to God, i.e., Jesus Christ (10:7–9; cf. Matt. 7:13–14; Luke 13:24; Acts 4:12).[11]
  • Let’s makes some applications:
    • Do we trust Jesus? In verse 1 Jesus says to believe in God, believe also in Me. “Believe” could be translated as “trust.” Do we trust Jesus?
    • Do we trust Jesus with our eternal life?
    • Do we trust Jesus with our life now?
    • What if we get a really bad diagnosis, can we still trust in Jesus?
    • What if we are persecuted for our faith? Can we trust Jesus?
    • Is Jesus enough for us?
    • The disciples were going to lose most everything for Him, Jesus tells them to trust Him.
    • Can we look forward to Heaven?
    • Can we trust Jesus’ words as truth?
    • Can we trust Jesus as the way?
    • Can we trust that Jesus’ death on the cross is the way to Heaven?
    • Can we trust that Jesus give us life?
    • Can we trust that Jesus is the only way to truly get life now (John 10:10)?
    • Are we trusting in Jesus?
    • Or, are we trusting in possessions?
    • What is our worldview about Christmas?
    • Is Christmas about materialism, or Jesus as the way, the truth, and the life?
    • Is Christmas about family gatherings, or Jesus as the way, the truth, and the life?
    • Is Christmas about gift giving, or Jesus as the way, the truth, and the life?
    • Is Christmas about a new age “Christmas spirit” which is nothing about Jesus or is Christmas about Jesus as the way, the truth, and the life?
    • Is Christmas about Santa Claus or Jesus as the way, the truth, and the life?
    • Is Christmas about Christmas lights and pretty decorations or Jesus as the way, the truth, and the life?
    • How are we holding to a Christian worldview about Christmas?
    • How are we teaching ourselves, our children, and our grandchildren of the Christian worldview about Christmas?

How important is truth to us?

When truth unmasks wrong, those who are exposed get very nervous, like the two brothers in a story I heard recently.

These brothers were rich. They were also wicked. Both lived a wild, unprofitable existence, using their wealth to cover up the dark side of their lives. On the surface, however, few would have guessed it, for these consummate cover-up artists attended the same church almost every Sunday and contributed large sums to various church-related projects.

Then the church called a new pastor, a young man who preached the truth with zeal and courage. Before long, attendance had grown so much that the church needed a larger worship center. Being a man of keen insight and strong integrity, this young pastor had also seen through the hypocritical lifestyles of the two brothers.

Suddenly one of the brothers died, and the young pastor was asked to preach his funeral. The day before the funeral, the surviving brother pulled the minister aside and handed him an envelope. “There’s a check in here that is large enough to pay the entire amount you need for the new sanctuary,” he whispered. “All I ask is one favor: Tell the people at the funeral that he was a saint.” The minister gave the brother his word; he would do precisely what was asked. That afternoon he deposited the check into the church’s account.

The next day the young pastor stood before the casket at the funeral service and said with firm conviction, “This man was an ungodly sinner, wicked to the core. He was unfaithful to his wife, hot-tempered with his children, ruthless in his business, and a hypocrite at church.… but compared to his brother, he was a saint.”

Leadership magazine, Fall 1995[12]


[1] Charles R. Swindoll, The Tale of the Tardy Oxcart and 1501 Other Stories (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2016), 86–87.

[2] Charles R. Swindoll, The Tale of the Tardy Oxcart and 1501 Other Stories (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2016), 588.

[3] Charles R. Swindoll, The Tale of the Tardy Oxcart and 1501 Other Stories (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2016), 589.

[4] Excerpt From: Crossway. “The MacArthur Study Bible, ESV.” Apple Books.

[5] Biblical Studies Press, The NET Bible First Edition Notes (Biblical Studies Press, 2006), Jn 14:1.

[6] Biblical Studies Press, The NET Bible First Edition Notes (Biblical Studies Press, 2006), Jn 14:4.


[8] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), Jn 10:9.

[9] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), Ro 5:2.

[10] The Gospel of Belief by a Wheaton College professor quoted by Swindoll on Insight for Living on April 17, 2019

[11] Excerpt From: Crossway. “The MacArthur Study Bible, ESV.” Apple Books.

[12] Charles R. Swindoll, The Tale of the Tardy Oxcart and 1501 Other Stories (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2016), 587–588.