By Jane Fryar
One of the many Christmas traditions Christians have is gift giving. Many of us spend hours planning what we will give and anticipating what we will receive. Giving and receiving gifts is one way we show our love for one another. And yet, if I were to ask you to tell me one gift you received or even gave last Christmas, could you do it? Perhaps a few of you could, but by now most of those gifts have been forgotten, used up, or broken.
Remembering what we received last year can be a challenge, but there is one gift that we cannot forget; indeed, it is the very reason we celebrate!
The whole idea of gift giving began in the heart of the One who made us. In the beginning God created the world and everything in it out of pure love for us. He created Adam and Eve and all living things. When he was finished, “God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good” (Genesis 1:31 KJV).
But as we know, it didn’t stay good. Adam and Eve disobeyed God, and since then, each one of us has done the same. Our sin separates us from God. The sin in our hearts leads us to commit all kinds of sins that hurt us and those around us. Our sin breaks God’s heart. Yet, because of his great love for us, God devised a plan to save us from the punishment we deserved, a plan to bring us back to himself.
Isn’t it interesting to know God created us with the full knowledge that our sin would mean the death of his Son? Right from the start God knew the sacrifice he would have to make, and yet he did it anyway. Why? Because “God is love” (1 John 4:8 KJV), and from all eternity, he intended to share his love with us. God’s great love came to us as a Gift, the Gift of a tiny Baby born more than 2,000 years ago!
That first Christmas was so unlike the holiday we celebrate today. There were no sparkly lights, no warm food, no parties, and no tinsel or glitter. Instead, a man and woman, a group of shepherds, some barn animals, and one carol—the praise chorus offered by the angels—heralded the Gift, the baby Jesus. It is amazing to think that God would be so quiet about the event he had been planning since before the creation!
It is difficult to understand why God chose to send Jesus the way he did, but maybe the answer can come from what the angels said. As the shepherds watched their flocks out in the dark field that night, suddenly the sky lit up, and “the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:10–11 KJV).
The message was for “all people,” but it was also a very personal, individual Gift. God could have shared the news with the whole world at once. Instead, he sent his messengers to a lonely field outside of Bethlehem, to a group of lowly shepherds. Those shepherds believed the message and went to see the Baby. There, beside the tiny manger, they received the Gift of Jesus! Afterward, they went on to share the Gift with all the people they met, one by one.
The Gift of Jesus is for you! Jesus came as a baby for you with the expressed purpose to save you from your sin. Perhaps the best known verse in the Bible is John 3:16 (KJV):
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
You may know that verse from memory, but today, right now, I want you make sure you know it not only in your head but also in your heart. I want you to know that it is for you! If you were the only person on earth, the only person in need of God’s forgiveness and salvation, he still would have made the sacrifice. He would have sent his Son for just one, for just you. Jesus would have gone through all of that pain and suffering just for you and only for you.
In fact, while he was on the cross, bearing your sin, he thought of you! He stayed on the cross out of love for you! He died for you, and he rose again to give life to you! Now that is a gift worth remembering!
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