Summary: Jesus has come and dwells among us. Through Jesus we receive the gift of adoption and have grace poured into our lives.
Matthew 1:10-18 “Amazing, Abundant Grace”
Gifts come in all shapes and sizes, and they range in price from the expensive to the creative. Usually we describe gifts by their physical attributes, but we could also describe them by their emotional impact. While I was growing up, I remember that there were a few presents that I would dread. Aunt Maude and Annie would always give me handkerchiefs with my initials embroidered on them. They weren’t the greatest gift when I was eight years-old, and I dreaded them. Some gifts are merely non-memorable. I confess that in six months that there will be a couple of times when I will ask myself, “What did he or she give me for Christmas?” (Of course, I never did this in regards to any gifts that Faye gave me!)
There is, however, a rare selection of gifts that simply blow you away with the love, thoughtfulness or sacrifice that they convey. You never forget these gifts. Faye share with me that one of the most memorable gifts she received (beside her engagement ring) was a book of pictures of our granddaughter, Lucy. One of my most memorable gifts was a Christmas stole given to me at my ordination by the guys that I worked with at a foundry. They weren’t the most religious people and I was overwhelmed by their thoughtfulness. What are some of your most memorable gifts?
THE ULTIMATE GIFT
There are no children in swaddling clothes for John, the writer of this gospel. Instead, we have The Word, the Son of God, who was God and was with God from the beginning of time. Nothing in all of creation was made without the Son of God. The Son of God became one of us and brought life and light to all people.
God has expressed his love for us in a multitude of ways. But humankind has not received the message that God is a God of love and grace.
The psalmist proclaims that the “Heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament proclaims his handiwork.” God gave us sunrises and sunsets that can take our breath away. God give us the smell of rain, and the taste of chocolate. He gave us the grandeur of the mountains and the delicate beauty of an orchid. In a world that could have been monochromatic and absent of the other senses, God breaks in with his extravagance and abundance. Still we wonder what God is like and if God loves us.
God sent his prophets to call his people back to a relationship with him. Through the prophets, he told his people that he longed to be their God—to provide for them and protect them. The people turned their back on God, rebelled against his lordship, incurred his wrath and rejected his love. When they stumbled and fell, and when they experienced the natural consequences of their actions, they wondered if God loved them and would still be their God.
The Word came to us as God’s ultimate gift. The Son of God is the greatest and clearest declaration of God’s love of humankind and for each one of us individually. The Word, the Son of God is Jesus the Christ.
SEE JESUS SEE GOD
Jesus is not only God’s ultimate gift of love, he is also the clearest demonstration of who God is—what God is like. When we see Jesus, we see God. John writes that Jesus was close to the Father’s heart.
When we read stories of Jesus talking with the woman at the well, touching lepers, healing a gentile woman who was hemorrhaging, and casting out demons from a tormented man, we see a man—and a God of compassion.
Jesus lifts up children as the model of discipleship, brings in the outcasts, and empowers the weak. We observe a God of justice.
Filling old jars with fresh wine at a wedding, feeding 5,000 people in the wilderness, and stilling the storm demonstrates that God is a God who lovingly cares for his people and provides for their needs.
Seeing Jesus on the cross we behold a God who will go to any length to bring us into a relationship with him—His love is so great!
Discovering the empty tomb we see a God who is Lord over all--even death.
CHILDREN OF GOD
John identifies God the creator as God the Father. The relationship that Jesus has with the Father is that of a Son. This is a powerful explanation of the type of relationship God wants with his creation.
Jesus gives the ability to become children of God; to enjoy the same type of relationship that he has with the Father. This is a gift. John makes it clear that this new life does not come by natural means or by human will. It comes only from the will of God.