As we come to the time where family comes together to celebrate what is the American tradition, by the giving of gifts around a well lit tree, and the company of loved ones, I wanted to share with you the beautiful meaning of what it is that we are celebrating.
We as human beings find value in a lot of things: i.e., TVs, cars, toys, jobs, and in each other. These we hold as life giving elements, because without them, we are considered not to be “living.” It is true that these things enhance our joy in life, and some things make our lives a little or a lot easier. And they are not bad. But they are not at all what will give us life.
So what I want to share is the greatest life giving gift anyone could receive. A gift that cannot be purchased, nor even conceived on our own. It is a gift that will never parish, it will never wither, it will never die, never get boring, in fact only more interesting. It is a gift that only gets sweeter with time, more desired as the days go by, and more enjoyable than any gift that you have or will ever receive. And in this is the real meaning of Christmas.
In the Gospel of Matthew and of Luke, we read of the greatest gift given to mankind for all of eternity. So let me read to you two accounts of this Gift.
6While they were there, the days were completed for her to give birth.
7And she gave birth to her firstborn son; and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.
8In the same region there were some shepherds staying out in the fields and keeping watch over their flock by night.
9And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened.
10But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people;
11for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.
18Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: when His mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child by the Holy Spirit.
19And Joseph her husband, being a righteous man and not wanting to disgrace her, planned to send her away secretly.
20But when he had considered this, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, "Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife; for the Child who has been conceived in her is of 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."
22Now all this took place to fulfill what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet:
23"BEHOLD, THE VIRGIN SHALL BE WITH CHILD AND SHALL BEAR A SON, AND THEY SHALL CALL HIS NAME IMMANUEL," which translated means, "GOD WITH US."
Jesus' coming into this world was a gift. But how can we say that He was a gift? John 3:16, "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life." When you give someone something it is considered a gift, or else it is a loan. But God gave His only Son as a gift to the world. And He was a free gift for you and me, it only cost God something, not us. Christ was born for one purpose and that was to die. And in his death, was the manifestation of this eternal gift. Scriptures tell us that in His death we have life, and have it more abundantly. This gift is not eternal life, but Christ Himself, the creator and sustainer of this universe.
Think of this, what would be a greater gift from the one you love, would it be monetary items, or would it be the gift of that person? The common story of a child who hungers for love from his father, but the father chooses to work and provide the son with much in monetary sense but what the son wants and needs is the father's love. The father's greatest gift to his son would be his love for him through the relationship, not the items given. The items only supplement, not take the place of.
Now what if you have treated that person with complete hatred and animosity, should that person give you the gift of themselves? How could I expect my mother to continue to give me anything if I continue to treat her like she is not even worth the dirt under my feet?
But that is what God did, He gave us himself. The one who has power over life and death. Even though we have treated God with contempt, have despised Him, we have chosen other things and other people above Him, or just not pay Him any attention, He still gave. Why? Because He loves. And His love is unconditional, but like any justice system, He still has to be just. So He sent Jesus to pay the penalty on our behalf. There has been a major crime committed, and someone has to pay the price,
But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him. Romans 5:8-9.
God's gift to us is extended at all times, the only thing is we just have to reach out and grab it.
For the scripture tells us that "He who waits on the Lord shall not be disappointed." We have a great hope that has been given to us, and His name is Jesus Christ, the greatest gift from anyone to anyone.
So while you are sharing gifts with each other, which is only symbolic of what the men did when they bowed and worshiped the Savior, and watching the gifts be handed out and the light of the eyes opening up because you got something that you want, let us not forget the gift that God gave in Jesus Christ. In fact, every time you open a gift ever think of the amazing Gift that gives life, namely Jesus Christ. For the rest will not last, and it eventually will wither and lose its flare, but Christ remains.
23For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6:23
So enjoy this time we have together, but let it push you toward what is really the meaning of Christmas.