Summary: I’d like to suggest tonight that the all-time best gift that has ever been given is Jesus Christ. And, once you open this gift, you will never want to return it, and you will never be the same!
The Greatest Presence of All
I hope many of you read the excellent article that Pastor Jeff wrote in last Saturday’s Daily Leader. I really liked how he ended it when he referred to Jesus as the greatest “presence” of all. That sums up what Immanuel really means. The greatest present is the presence of Christ. This involves three things.
1. The gift is Jesus Christ Himself. With all the other trappings of the season, we must never forget the Christ of Christmas. While it’s become a cliché, Jesus is the reason for the season.
John 3:16: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son…”
John 4:10: “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.”
Romans 5:15: “For if the many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more did God’s grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many!”
2. This gift has great value. Alan Perkins puts it this way: “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…” All they can see is an ordinary human being. And so, they pass by the child in the manger and instead seek after 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?”
For some reason, many people refuse to accept God’s gift. We gain insight into this from Mary as she contemplated the baby swaddled in her arms. She was so filled with thankfulness that she burst into a psalm of praise in Luke 1:46-48: “My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant.” As she praised God, she also recognized that not everyone would be so thankful for the gift. She opened her arms and her hands to accept what God wanted to give her. Sadly, there are others, maybe even some of you here tonight, who have their hands closed, refusing to receive the gift with their name on it.
Dr. Bruce Emmert suggests three types of people who close themselves off from the Christ of Christmas:
· The proud. In verse 51, we read, “He has performed mighty deeds with his arm; He has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts.” Imagine if you will, the proud who have their arms folded across their chests, their hearts closed to anything that God wants to give them [Demonstrate].
· The powerful. There are others who consider themselves too self-sufficient to need a Savior. In verse 52, Mary sang, “He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble.” The powerful raise their hands in a fist of independence, refusing to surrender [Demonstrate].
· The pacified. This third group has a difficult time receiving the gift of God because they are too comfortable to need Him. Mary’s song continues in verse 53: “He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty.” If you’re full, food doesn’t look very good. If you’re warm, you don’t need a coat. If you feel like you have everything you need, then God’s love will mean very little. If your hands are busy patting your tummy, then your hands can’t reach out and accept the bread of heaven [Demonstrate].