Summary: Jesus gift to us is a relational gift that demonstrates how we can give relational gifts to others.
Unless you’ve completely isolated yourselves for the last week, you’ve been bombarded by all the advertising for the appropriately named “Black Friday”. Perhaps you are even one of the many people who got up early on Friday to brave the crowds in order to get some really good deals.
But if we really want to give the most valuable gift of all this Christmas season, then we need to make a completely different kind of preparations. This morning, I’m going to share the second of three messages to encourage us to give a gift that really is worth giving this year, the gift described by Paul in 2 Corinthians 9:
Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift!
2 Corinthians 9:5 (ESV)
Last week we focused on the idea that the gift of Jesus is a sacrificial gift. Jesus sacrificed His position, His privileges and His possessions in order to provide us with the gift of eternal life – a gift that we could never obtain by any other means. But Jesus hasn’t given us that gift just to keep to ourselves. We are to help others open that gift as well. And in order to do that we also need to be willing to sacrifice our position, our privileges, our possessions and our pride. Thanks to several of you who shared some really good ideas about how to put that message into practice in some really practical ways on the church Facebook page. If any of you would like to look at those suggestions or add your own, I’ve included the links to a couple of web pages in your bulletin this week.
This week, I want to focus on a second aspect of that inexpressible gift. Not only is it a sacrificial gift, it is also a relational gift. Again that is evident throughout the Scriptures, but we’re going to focus on one passage from the gospel of John this morning. More than any of the gospels, John really focuses on this aspect of the ministry of Jesus. That’s not surprising given John’s close relationship with and love for Jesus. John loved to be wherever Jesus was and he was never far from Jesus’ side, even at His crucifixion. Go ahead and turn to John chapter 1 and follow along as I read beginning in verse 9:
9 The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. 11 He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. 12 But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. 14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.
John 1:9-14 (ESV)
God could have chosen to make our salvation possible by any means that He desired. But from before the creation of the world, He determined that the method He would use would be to put on a body of flesh and to come down to the world He created and have a personal relationship with those He had created. This morning I want to focus on three critical elements in the process by which Jesus established that relationship and then we’ll see how we can apply those same principles for the purpose of helping others unwrap the gift of Jesus this Christmas by giving relational gifts.
JESUS’ RELATIONAL GIFT
• Jesus delighted in developing a relationship with those He created
Jesus did not give up the glory of heaven and come to earth as a man begrudgingly. As we saw last week, He had great joy in what He did because He was focused on the results that His sacrifice would accomplish. We also see evidence throughout the gospels that Jesus did not consider coming to earth to be an inconvenience or an obligation. He genuinely enjoyed being around people and establishing relationships with others for the purpose of sharing the gospel message with them.
Later on in the gospel of John, we find what I think is one of the most astonishing declarations in the entire Bible. As Jesus walked through a vineyard with His disciples in order to teach them about the importance of abiding in Him, He spoke these words:
No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.