I have many fond memories of Christmas, in case you haven’t noticed, and this is one of them. When I was a child and didn’t yet earn a paycheck, my parents would take us kids shopping and we’d split up. The guys would go one way and the girls the other and then we’d swap – girls with Dad and boys with Mom. We all got to pick out the special (at the time) gifts we each individually would give each of our immediate family members; and I’ll admit that I enjoyed receiving gifts. Still do, even though the joy of giving outweighs receiving.
That holiday tradition went on until all of us were over the age of five and the gifts were starting to get more expensive (not that baby clothing, toys and Christmas dresses for little girls aren’t expensive). Times were changing. In 1996, we decided to start drawing names with a few other relatives instead and when the farm had a good year, Dad sometimes saw to it that he and Mom got gifts for all four of us kids.
Now that I’m an adult and it’s been nearly 20 years since that change, my holiday shopping consists of gift-exchanging with a few friends, brewing up some holiday goodies to give away – I can’t eat them all!, name drawing, Secret Santa gift exchanges and white elephant holiday parties (the latter can be quite a hoot).
But what does this have to do with Jesus?
Jesus was the ultimate gift that God could have given us.
He gave Himself
Wrapped in human flesh
Confined to our limitedness
Death was the only way he could save us.
He could not die as God, but he could as man.
So he gave up his infiniteness and became a baby; a baby who grew in the womb, was fed, clothed, held and cared for…just like you and me.
That baby grew into a man; a man who experienced the same things you and I face each day – temptation, trials, decisions, death, sadness, laughter, scraped knees – and more. And yet, he was perfect. His life wasn’t ruled by emotion, but based on His Father – on joy, on peace – on a state of being rather than that which is fleeting.
For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son…John 3.16
John 3.16 tells us that God loved us – loved you and me – so much that he gave us Jesus. Through Jesus, we can have so much – the gifts are endless. Just look around you!
These are just a few of the gifts God lavishes upon his children and I’m sure, that much like the Christmas mornings of my childhood, He can’t wait for you to open and respond to His gifts:
God loved us so much that he gave of himself to fix what we broke in our relationship with him. The Fall had left a hole so deep and wide that there didn’t seem to be any hope for saving – then Jesus came. The prophecy of the coming Messiah brought hope and anticipation with it until one night, in a sleepy, little town called Bethlehem, Christ came. That love led him to growing up, to his ministry, to the cross and to the resurrection. That love lives today – in you and in me. That Love gives us the ability to love others the way he did and still does…talk about the gift that keeps on giving!
You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ. Romans 8.9
Through Jesus we have access to a wonderful gift called grace – getting what we don’t deserve. Jesus paid the cost of our sin so we could have it.
Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Romans 5.1-2
But the gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more did God’s grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow of the many! Romans 5.15
…in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. Ephesians 2.7
how sweet the sound
that saved a wretch like me
I once was lost
but now I’m found
was blind but now I see!
This is one gift worth getting excited about. Just as Jesus was resurrected in his new human form, we too will be resurrected in similar fashion when he returns to take us all home. Without the resurrection of Christ, we have nothing.
And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. 1 Corinthians 15.17
I eagerly wait in anticipation for that day and what a glorious day that will be!
The sing of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 1 Corinthians 15.56-57
Praise be to God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. 1 Peter 1.3
Because of his sacrifice, we too can be heirs in the Kingdom of God.
…and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil of fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you… 1 Peter 1.4
The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs – heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory. Romans 8.16-17
The gift of the Gospel
There are no words for this gift, on my part at least, so I’d like to let Timothy Keller do the talking:
The gospel of justifying faith means that while Christians are, in themselves still sinful and sinning, yet in Christ, in God’s sight, they are accepted and righteous. So we can say that we are more wicked than we ever dared believe, but more loved and accepted in Christ than we ever dared hope – at the very same time. This creates a radical new dynamic for personal growth. It means that the more you see your own flaws and sins, the more precious, electrifying, and amazing God’s grace appears to you. But on the other hand, the more aware you are of God’s grace and acceptance in Christ, the more able you are to drop your denials and self-defenses and admit the true dimensions and character of your sin.
…the gospel, however, is that Jesus takes the law of God so seriously that He paid the penalty of disobedience, so we can be saved by sheer grace.
The gospel changes our status… How has your status been changed by the gospel?
Where we once were slaves, we are now free.
Where we once were lost, we are now found.
We have become children of God.
The list goes on…
The Word, the Bible, never runs out. It’s a book that lives, literally. You can’t go through life reading the same chapter over and over again and expect to get the same results. Passages I read when I was a child impact my life differently now that I’m an adult, even passages I read last year impact me differently today – whether that be due to life circumstances (which always change), my ever-deepening relationship with Jesus or the fact that I’ve grown up and can now understand on a deeper level what the Bible teaches.
Every day, we can find new things in his Word that give us strength and sharpen us, build us up, and even rebuke us. God knew we needed it, so he gave it.
Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your heart. Colossians 3.16
There’s so much that we have been given through Jesus, the best gift ever! In Christ, we are free – free from the bondage of sin, free from tying ourselves to what does not define us (anything but Him), free to choose life – to choose Him.
How about you? Would you leave gifts unwrapped and laying under the tree? No. Would you leave this gift unwrapped and untouched? Will you choose to accept the gift God offers? What better time to be intentional about your walk with God than now?
The choice is yours:
© Anita J. Brands. 2013. Website: https://authentictruthseeker.wordpress.com/