“There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” - John 15:13 (NLT)
I was recently reminded of a story I heard a few years ago about a kid who randomly walked into a church service while the pastor was in the middle of his sermon. The kid sat down next to a man who quickly realized that the kid was in search of purpose in life.
The man quietly began to tell him a story about a guy named Bill who took a boat trip with his son and his son’s friend. The boat got caught in a storm, and Bill’s son and his friend were thrown overboard.
The two boys were both drowning, and there was only enough time to save one boy. Bill had to make a split-second decision whether to throw the rope to save his son or his son’s friend.
You can probably guess that Bill threw the rope to save his son first and then attempted to save his son’s friend too. No one would blame Bill for saving his son, but that’s not what happened.
Bill knew his son was a born-again Christian and would go to heaven if he died. He knew that if his son died, he would see him again one day. Bill’s son’s friend was not a Christian, so Bill made the hardest decision any father could ever make.
He sacrificed his son to save his son’s friend.
At this point in the story, the kid sitting in the church was completely engaged and curious to find out what happened next. “I forgot to introduce myself,” the man whispered to the kid. “I’m Bill, and the pastor giving the sermon right now is my son’s friend who I saved that day.”
Bill didn’t know that his son’s friend would one day become a Christian and share the love of God with others, but he took a chance knowing that anything is possible with God.
This story reminds me of the reason why we celebrate Christmas. Jesus was born to die for us. God knew that many of us would reject him, but he sacrificed his only son to die for us anyway.
He did it because he loves us. He did it because he knew that even though many people would reject him, many people would also receive him.
He did it for you.
“Then Jesus told them this parable: “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.” - Luke 15:3-7
We celebrate Christmas because Jesus died so that we could have life. December 25th is not about a date, sparkly trees and presents, or beautiful lights. Christmas is about a person, Christ, who is the epitome of love because he is love.
“There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” - John 15:13
Jesus loves you more than you could ever imagine. And despite what the world is trying to convince us these days, there is no Christmas without Christ.
He is the reason for the season and the star of the greatest love story ever.
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Do great things with God.