The Greatest Gift

December 24, 2012 · Print This Article

Christmas is a time of giving. And that means Christmas is a time of shopping. Ever since the wise men from the east showed up at the stable carrying gold, frankincense, and myrrh, people have been exchanging gifts at Christmas. Of course, it’s much more complicated today than it was for the wise men. For one thing, they didn’t have to contend with shopping malls, all packed full of parents going from store to store to store, desperately searching for a Nintendo Playstation 2. The magi didn’t have to worry about sizes, or colors, or return policies. There were no razor scooters in those days, no life-size Barbies, and definitely no robot dogs. Just plain old gold, frankincense and myrrh. Not to mention the many gifts which went bad such as the (Pet Rock) for those of us remembering the seventies!

Well, this year, just like every year, millions of people, both children and adults, will open millions of gifts. Some won’t fit. Some will be the wrong color. Many will be returned or exchanged. But there’s one gift that meets everyone’s need, one gift that will never wear out, never break or need repairing. A gift that is appropriate for a small child, or a teenager, or an adult, or a senior adult. Boy or girl, man or woman, it makes no difference. The gift we all need, the most valuable gift of all, is that baby in the manger. The one that this whole season is about. On Christmas, we celebrate the fact that God gave us the gift of Himself through His own Son, Jesus Christ, so that through faith in Him we could be forgiven of our sins and have eternal life.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” – John 3:16 (NIV)

For this special day, I’d like to make three points about this gift, this incredible, priceless gift.

1. The gift is Jesus Christ himself

First, the gift is Jesus Christ himself. The gift God offers us is to know Christ. To know Him as a friend, to have fellowship with Him, to have a relationship with Him. The gift God offers us is to be known and loved by Christ.

Jesus states “I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.” – John 15:15 (NIV)

“Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.” – John 17:3 (NIV)

Let me ask you a question: Have you received this gift? Do you have this kind of relationship with Jesus Christ? Do you know Him as a friend? Is He someone you can talk with, confide in, seek counsel from? Do you feel at ease in His presence, like you would with a close friend, or do you feel like you have to rush around cleaning up your spiritual “house” before you can welcome him in? If the answer is “no,” if you don’t have this kind of relationship with Christ, the good news is that you can. All you have to do is ask. Come to him in prayer; confess your sins, ask His forgiveness, ask Him into your heart. That’s all you have to do.

Maybe you’ve never heard the Christian life described in this way before. Perhaps it sounds a little strange to talk about spending time with Jesus Christ, as if He were a flesh and blood person, someone you could see and hear and touch. Well, no it isn’t like that. We don’t claim to see visions or hear voices. But that doesn’t make our fellowship with him any less real. Christ is present with us. His Spirit lives in us. He speaks to us through the Bible. And we speak with him through prayer.

“We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ.” – 1 John 1:3 (NIV)

People sometimes think of Christianity as nothing but a set of burdensome responsibilities. Doing things you’d rather not do. Like going to church, when you’d rather be home reading the Sunday paper. Some people see the Christian life as a lot of rules, a lot of “do’s” and “don’ts” (mainly “don’ts”). Or if they view Christianity more positively, they might see it primarily in terms of the benefits it can bring – improved relationships; stronger marriages; guidance in raising children; emotional strength to deal with difficult circumstances. And that’s true, but even this misses the mark. The essence of Christianity isn’t rules, or “do’s and don’t’s”, or even blessings. The essence of Christianity is a relationship with Jesus Christ. Yes, the Christian life brings many benefits – joy, peace, hope. But they all come through Christ, they all flow from our relationship with Him.

Your greatest gift to your children isn’t a few boxes wrapped in colored paper, on Christmas or their birthday. The most valuable thing you can offer them is a relationship; your love and care, your time and attention, your commitment to always be there when they need you. Right? Everything else flows from that. In the same way, God’s greatest gift to us is a relationship with Jesus Christ, and a relationship with Him through Jesus Christ.

2. The Gift Has Great Value

The second point I want to make is that this gift has great value. Although there is truly nothing more desirable than knowing Christ, many people just can’t see it. Their eyes haven’t been opened. They look into the manger and they don’t see a king. They don’t see the Savior of the World. They don’t see “the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace,” as the Hallelujah chorus puts it. They don’t see anything special at all, because they don’t have eyes of faith. All they can see is an ordinary human being. And so, they pass by the child in the manger and instead seek after the gold, and the frankincense, and the myrrh sitting at the side. They don’t want the baby, they want the presents. Which do you value more, the toys and trinkets of this life that will all eventually crumble into dust or a relationship with Jesus Christ that will last forever?

“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it.” – Matt. 13:44-46 (NIV)

Knowing Christ is worth more than anything else in this world; in fact, knowing Christ is worth more than everything else in this world. We will never be disappointed by Him. He is that treasure; He’s that pearl of great value. God’s gift to us, this child in the manger, is worth more than anything else we could ever possess. Does your life reflect that truth? Do you know Him? Are you seeking Him?

“Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!” – 2 Corinthians 9:15 (NIV)

3. The gift must be received

Finally, the gift must be received. It’s available to everyone, but God doesn’t force it on anyone. We have to receive it. We have to take the package, and open the box, and accept it as our own. We each have to make the decision to receive Jesus Christ into our lives.

“Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God – children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.” – John 1:12 (NIV)

Not all who heard about him agreed with his teachings or received salvation. Not all who attended church. Not all who tried to follow the golden rule. But only all those who received him. Some people imagine that God’s love has to be earned; that we have to do something to deserve His forgiveness. That we have to somehow be good enough to merit His acceptance. But a gift you have to pay for is no gift at all. Imagine your wife, children, family or friends trying to pay for a gifts which you gave them.

Now, maybe you opened that gift years ago, but lately it’s been sitting on the shelf. You’ve been too busy, or too distracted, or too hurting to give Christ the time and attention you know He deserves. Or maybe for you that gift is still under the tree, wrapped and ready to be opened. My appeal to you this most Holy Christmas season is this: Don’t leave Christ on the shelf; don’t leave Him under the tree. Take him into your heart and into your life, do it today. That gift from God has a tag with your name on it. What better day than Christmas to renew your commitment to Christ; or what better day than Christmas to begin a new life of fellowship with Jesus Christ, a new life of joy and peace and love?

The wish from our family to yours is that God, Abba Father will grant to you and yours a very blessed Merry Christmas and a joyous Happy, Healthy and Prosperous New Year.

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