Christmas celebrations are on everyone’s calendar. And so are shopping trips! So how do we celebrate? What is at the top of your list of presents? And why would I ask the questions? You know there is a point!
Christmas: Presents Required
The commercial side of this Holy-day (that’s how we got holiday!) is out of hand. With that said, what is the root of the seasonal gift-giving? There are competing thoughts. But let’s stick with Biblical realities.
First, Ephesians 5:1 tells us to imitate God. That’s a huge command! Our Father is the Giver of every good and perfect gift – see James 1:17. And Matthew 7:11, in Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, tells us:
If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him!
And I’ve said many times that Christmas is the original mission story. God so loved the world that He gave His only Son… You recognize those words from John 3:16.
Christmas: The Mission
I have a weak but useful illustration. The Christmas mission story is a little bit like your conversation with an ant. Does the ant have enough mental capacity to perceive the existence of a human being? The ant’s mental abilities are obviously inferior to those of a human. So let’s assume some limited ability of the ant to comprehend you or me. What would have to occur for the ant to gain understanding? In short, we would have to take the initiative.
That’s the Christmas mission story. God is infinite, holy, eternal, all-powerful, all-knowing, and sovereign over all. How could finite, mortal, sinful beings ever perceive of Him? Answer: He took the initiative. He revealed Himself to us in many ways. His Word is a record of those acts. His Word contains the names by which we begin to gain an understanding of Him.
And we see His revelation completed at Christmas. How? God became a baby. He lived as we do. But in doing so He never sinned. That’s what we know about God the Son – Jesus. And in John 14:9, Jesus said:
If you have seen Me you have seen the Father.
The Best Presents
So we give because God gave. That is imitating Him. And the events of Jesus’ coming contain other examples of giving. The shepherds and angels gave Him praise. The magi gave Him gifts of worship, gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Those are great presents. But another surpasses them.
Isaiah prophesied that a virgin would conceive and His name would be called Immanuel. That prophecy is repeated in Matthew. And Matthew gave us the definition of the name.
The best of all the presents is not the gold, an iPhone, a tablet, a new X-box game, or even a new car. I love word play. It was often employed by Biblical writers. So what is the best of all the presents? His presence! That is what Matthew recorded:
Immanuel – which means: God with us.
Soli Deo Gloria!
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