God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
In John 3:16, Jesus teaches us that the God who exists loves. Let that sink in. The God who absolutely is. Loves. He loves. Of all the things you might say about God, be sure to say this: he loves.
The same writer of John 3:16 says in 1 John 4:8, “God is love.” Which I take to mean at least this: giving what’s good and serving the benefit of others is closer to the essence of God than getting and being served. God is without needs. God inclines to meet needs. God is a giver. God is love.
So Jesus tells us more specifically what he means by love in John 3:16. “God so loved . . .” The “so” here doesn’t mean an amount of love, but a way of loving. He doesn’t mean, God loved so much, but God loved this way. “God so loved” means “God thus loved.”
How? What is the way God loved? He loved such “that he gave his only Son.” And we know that this giving was a giving up to rejection and death. “He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him” (John 1:11). Instead they killed him. And Jesus said of all this, “I glorified you [Father] on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do” (John 17:4). So when the Father gave his only begotten Son, he gave him to die.
That’s the kind of love the Father has. It is a giving love. It gives his most precious treasure—his Son.
Meditate on that this Christmas. It was a very costly love. A very powerful love. A very rugged, painful love. The meaning of Christmas is the celebration of this love. “God so loved . . .” And wonder of wonders, God gives this costly love to an undeserving world of sinners, like us.