God's Greatest Gift
Editor's Note: Join us as we celebrate the birth of Christ at our candlelight Christmas Eve services at 3:30 and 5 p.m. Classes are provided for children through age four.
It’s the week of Christmas and everyone is busy with last minute preparations. Some are running to the store to buy the perfect gift for that loved one, and others keep checking the front porch to see if Amazon has delivered the gift they ordered. But as we enter into another Christmas celebration, let us remember that the greatest gift was not a last minute decision but rather a gift that had been planned and in the heart of God from the beginning of time.
But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah,
who are too little to be among the clans of Judah,
from you shall come forth for me
one who is to be ruler in Israel,
whose coming forth is from of old,
from ancient days. (Micah 5:2)
This Advent season we have looking at four aspects of the gift of Jesus Christ that is offered to all who receive it by faith. Jesus came to bring us hope, peace, love, and joy.
Christmas reminds us that that God is faithful to his promises, and that our hope is rooted in the promises of God. “For I tell you that Christ became a servant to the circumcised to show God's truthfulness, in order to confirm the promises given to the patriarchs” (Romans 15:8). What were the promises made to the patriarchs? God promised Abraham that through him all the families of the earth would be blessed. And God promised David that one of his descendants would be God’s forever King whose throne would be established forever. Jesus is the descendant of David who came to spread God’s blessings to people from every tribe and nation who believe in him. All the promises of God find their yes in Jesus (2 Corinthians 1:20). And since we know God is truthful to his promises, we have hope knowing that the promises made to us by Jesus will be fulfilled. The promise of Christ to those who believe in him is that He has prepared a place for them to be in his presence for all eternity (John 14:3).
The gift of Jesus had an expressed purpose: to bring glory to God and to bring peace to mankind. When the shepherds in the field received the news of the birth of Christ, the angels cried out, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” (Luke 2:14). This peace only comes to those who are pleasing to God. And the only way to be pleasing to God is faith (Hebrews 11:6) – to believe in Jesus. This is why Romans 15:13 says that there is “peace in believing.” The primary peace that Christ brings is a peace with God. Man is at enmity with God because of our sin. The only way for us to be at peace with God is to have our sins paid for and this is why Christ came to the earth. Jesus brings us peace with others as we forgive others who have wronged us just as Christ forgave us. And Jesus came to bring us lasting and enduring peace within. “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid” (John 14:27). The peace that Jesus gives us is not based on our circumstances but knowing that he is with us regardless of our circumstances.
The message of Christmas is a message of love. Love does not wait to be earned. Love initiates before its recipient beckons it. Love is selfless and sacrificial. The greatest gift of Christmas is the gift of God’s son sacrificially given in grace to save those who did not deserve it. “For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith” (Romans 3:22-25). The birth of Christ cannot be fully celebrated and appreciated without understanding the death of Christ. He came into this world ultimately to give his life as a ransom to save sinners (Mark 10:45). The world portrays a picture of love that is fleeting. But in Christ, we have a love that is unconditional and lasting. There is no greater love than this (John 15:13).
Joy is the only proper response for the one that receives the gift of Christ. When the birth of Christ was announced, a host of angels gathered around the shepherds to sing praises to God: “Glory to God in the highest!” Jesus was born into this world seeking the glory of God (John 7:18). And God is most glorified when hearts are made eternally glad upon receiving the gift of grace that is found in Jesus. The Apostle Paul wrote, “For it is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God” (2 Corinthians 4:15). This is the ultimate purpose of Christmas: Jesus came to bring life and grace to sinful hearts that would result in praise to the glory of God (Ephesians 1:6).
May this Christmas season be a time of great joy and praise for your family as you reflect on the greatest gift of Christmas – Jesus!