Summary: Jesus’ gift to us is an eternal gift that we get to keep for ourselves and pass on to others at the same time.
This morning I want to ask you to think about your favorite Christmas gift ever. Maybe it was a little red wagon or a shiny new bicycle. Maybe it was an article of clothing or the latest video game. Now let me ask you a question. Where is that gift today? Chances are, we have no idea. Toys become broken and are thrown away, Clothes wear out or we outgrow them. Sometimes our interests change and that gift gets put away in the attic or the corner of a closet somewhere.
I know one of my all-time favorite gifts was a wooden rocking chair. I still remember waking up on Christmas Eve night to use the bathroom and seeing my dad putting the last coat of varnish on that chair. And even once I outgrew it, I hung on to that chair and eventually our children used that very same chair. And after they outgrew it, Mary and I still hung on to that chair, hoping that one day our grandchildren would sit in it. But unfortunately one day it fell from the place where it was hanging in our garage and shattered.
But there is one gift that will never wear out, one that we will never outgrow, one that will not go out of fashion, one that cannot be broken. It is the gift that we have been looking at for the last three week now – the one described by Paul with these words:
Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift!
2 Corinthians 9:5 (ESV)
Over the past two weeks, we have discovered that this inexpressible gift is a sacrificial gift and a relational gift. It is a sacrificial gift because it required Jesus to sacrifice His position, His privileges and His possessions. It is also a relational gift because Jesus delighted in developing relationships, he designed a plan to make a relationship with Him possible and he demonstrated His love for us by carrying out that plan.
So I’m encouraging all of us to consider those two aspects of Jesus’ gift to us as we give gifts to others this season. Thanks again to those of you who have helped to make these messages very practical with the ideas that you’ve shared over the last couple of weeks on my blog and on the church Facebook page. If you haven’t already had a chance to do so, I encourage you to check these out.
This morning we’ll look at a third aspect of Jesus’ inexpressible gift to us. That gift is also an eternal gift. Once again, there are a number of passages that we could use to illustrate that truth, but we’ll focus on just one. Go ahead and turn in your Bibles to 1 Peter 1 and follow along as I read beginning in verse 3:
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, 5 who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 6 In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, 7 so that the tested genuineness of your faith – more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire – may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 8 Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, 9 obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
1 Peter 1:3-9 (ESV)
We’re going to focus this morning on one phrase in verse 3 – living hope. If there is one gift that was needed at the time Jesus was born, it was hope. The people were living under the iron fisted rule of Rome, especially those in Palestine who were governed by the cruel King Herod. The economy was struggling and the people were subject to high taxes. In many ways, the conditions then were not all that different than what we face today, are they? The fact is that we need that same gift of hope today. There are signs all around us that people are living without hope. Recent polls show that for the first time in our country’s history people don’t believe that their children will have a better life than they did.
All around us people are trying to find hope in the midst of some very trying times. Some look for hope in their bank accounts or their 401-K plans. But that hasn’t worked out real well recently for most people. Some people look for hope in the government, but with governments at almost every level now being broke, that no longer seems to be a viable option. Some people look for hope in other people, but the problem with that is that fallible, sinful human beings are certain to let us down at some point.