Sermon Notes: Why God's Love Ended Up in a Feeding Trough For Animals

in christianity •  10 months ago  (edited)

A little over a month ago, my pastor asked me if I'd be willing to deliver a sermon on the second Sunday of Advent. He asked two other men in our small congregation to do so on the weeks before and after. In case you aren't familiar, the four Sundays in Advent are:

  1. Hope
  2. Love
  3. Joy
  4. Peace

Since my sermon fell on the second Sunday of Advent, my theme was love. I delivered that sermon yesterday.

god's love
Image from Pixabay.

What follows is a raw outline of the sermon. My goal is to provide a full text, not necessarily word for word but idea for idea, in text form next Sunday. If you're a Christian, I hope you are blessed. If you are not, I pray for an abundance of hope, love, joy, and peace for you and your family this holiday season.

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Outline: Why God's Love Ended Up in a Feeding Trough for Animals


John 3:16 - For God so loved the world,[a] that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

  1. God's love
    • Crucifixion, death, resurrection
    • Final events go hand in hand with beginnings
    • God's love is wrapped in the humanity of Jesus
  2. Three clauses
  3. 5 words
    • God
    • so loved
    • world
    • gave
    • only son


  1. Genesis 1:1 - God created
    • God is active / not passive
    • God interacts with creation in strange, unexpected ways
  2. “For” - connecting word
  3. Verses 14-15: As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.
    • Allusion to Israelites wandering wilderness, complaining
    • God sends fiery serpents to bite and kill, people repent and Moses prayed
    • Numbers 21:8 - God told Moses, “Make a fiery serpent and set it on a pole, and everyone who is bitten, when he sees it, shall live.”
    • Jesus is the serpent on the pole for all those who will repent of their sins.


  1. “So” - Little word, big implications
  2. Past tense
    • Present tense, no less true
    • God loves the world, never stopped loving
    • God formed His plan before foundation of the world
    • God loved, acted on it; first act: Creation
  3. The Four Loves – C.S. Lewis
    • Storge – empathy;
    • Philía – friendship or brotherly love;
    • Eros – romantic love;
    • Agápe – unconditional
  4. 3 types are possible without God's help
  5. Without Agápe, easy to distort and pervert all loves
  6. Cultural infatuation: brotherly love, romantic – flawed understanding of God's purpose in embedding within us the capacity for these loves
  7. God's love is Agápe love
    • Greek in John 3:16 is variation of Agápe
    • God loved object without any merit
    • Other loves, the object earns the right to love or possesses a quality that warrants the love
    • Agape: Look past flaws and loves anyways – intrinsicaly divine
  8. Pagan Greeks had word for concept for a reason
    • Greek mind: Agape embedded in human psyche – parent/child relationships
    • Agape is enhanced when empowered by divine agape love


  1. Two views
    • Every man, woman, and child who has ever lived or who will ever live.
    • Jesus Christ came only for the elect.
  2. Truth in both views, but miss nuance in John's language
    • God is love.
    • Matthew 5:44-45: “love your enemies so that you may be sons of your father who is heaven.”
  3. Greek word: kosmos
    • Vine's Expository Dictionary: Kosmos= “order, arrangement, ornament, or adornment.”
    • Pythagoras and the circle of fire
    • Pythagoreans spoke of kosmos because universe contains intrinsic order.
  4. John uses kosmos to help us understand who Jesus is
    • John 1:1: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. ”
    • Word became flesh (John 1:14).
  5. Colossians 1:20: “through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross,”
  6. Ephesians 1:10 - God has “a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.” So he's not merely reconciling man to Himself, but his entire creation to Himself.
  7. Point A to Point Z: First appear as a babe in a manger. God so loved the world that He wrapped Himself in swaddling clothes.


  1. Gifts come back unwrapped. Rejected. Would it then be a gift?
  2. Merriam Webster: A gift is “Something voluntarily transferred by one person to another without compensation.”
  3. Gift of God's son: two distinct and complementary ways.
    • Voluntary on God's part
    • World has not earned or merited gift in any way.
    • God gave His gift freely and it cannot be rejected.
  4. 4 specific recipients of God's gift
    • All those whom He loves.
    • The world. General - God's creation. Particular – individuals/grace. Two ways to understand God's gift to the world:
      1. When it says “whoever believes in him,” it does not mean that all will believe in him.
      2. The world could do with him as it pleased. They crucified him.
    • To Mary. He needed a womb.
    • All those who believe in Him.

One and Only Son

  1. Two senses
    • Second person of the Trinity
    • Only person conceived by the Holy Spirit.
  2. The KJV uses “only begotten.”
    • Jesus Christ the only person conceived by God.
    • Very embodiment of love that God is.
    • God's plan conceived in love, executed in love, brought to fruition in love, and will ultimately be brought to a grand conclusion through love.


  1. Picture of God's love – Advent and Jesus Christ
  2. What should narrative do for us? Motivate us to do?

1 John 4: 7-12
Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.

  1. We can never express our love as God does without divine help.
  2. God's love should motivate us to express that love through good deeds, laying down of life
  3. True love is putting our own desires on the back seat so we can focus on needs and desires of others.
  4. That's what Christ did when he gave up his divine position to be born as a babe in swaddling clothes.
  5. It's what God did when he gave His son for that purpose.
  6. Sincere Christians do the work of God, love one another in the same manner and with the same intensity that He first loved us.

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I am a Christian and proudly say it out loud too.

And you know what, John 3:16 is the first Bible Verse I knew that spoke inside me eventhough I knew nothing about Jesus and His deed.

That time, I wasn't a believe yet so my friend bought me a Bible for my birthday.

This is a great super insightful sermon. And I am sure you did a great job and the Words had been delivered well.

Thank you so much for sharing the sermon here.


Thank you @iamjadeline. It's good to know you're a believer and I hope God blesses you this Christmas.

This is fantastic. I think your ideas completely summed up why His love for us ended up in a trough. It's often difficult for people to understand why a King would be born under such humble circumstances. Well done.

Thanks. It is difficult. In fact, incomprehensible without the Holy Spirit illuminating the word for us and bringing us alive. Thanks for reading. I hope you have a blessed Christmas.

I grew up in a Christian school and in part of your sermon "God's love is Agape love." I recalled it was mentioned during one of our weekly auditorium Bible sessions when I was in high school. That is so true that God loves us despite our flaws.

He loved you so much that He gave His only son. I hope you and yours have a wonderful holiday season. Thanks for stopping by.

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We need to understand God's message to us.

Yes we do.

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@blockurator thanks for sharing your sermon outline!! 😊 Benefitted from it. And it just so happens that I am interested in reading the Four Loves by C.S. Lewis and you referenced it!

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Cool. You should read the book. It's an awesome commentary on an incredible subject.