There are many ways to look at Christmas, depending on who you are and where you are:
1. For the retail merchant, it looks like up to one-third of his annual income.
2. For the atheist and agnostic, it’s a time for parties—revelry--fun and games and the escape from the drudgery of life’s routine.
3. For the church groupies—the unsaved religionists that populate so many of our churches, it’s a time to flaunt their religion without personal commitments beyond the holidays.
4. For the believers—those one who truly know Jesus as their personal savior… and those who know him as a guide and source of life, morality, and ultimate satisfaction—to us, Christmas is a time to reflect on the greatest gift that has ever been given: Eternal and abundant life, free for the taking… all paid for by…
• A God who loves us enough to die for us;
• A God who was not satisfied simply to take our sin away, but also
• A God who wrapped us in his own goodness—his own righteousness—just so he could fully embrace us in his love… and continue to bless us beyond belief.
That’s the real Christmas.
And it didn’t start in Bethlehem.
That was just the public announcement—the delivery of a promise made so long ago.
It started in eternity past—before God laid the foundations of this earth.
As the New Living Testament expresses it in Ephesians 1:4 Long ago, even before he made the world, God loved us… and chose us in Christ to be holy—(set aside and dedicated to him)--and without fault in his eyes.
5 His unchanging plan has always been to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. And this gave him great pleasure.
Just think; God took great pleasure in giving us salvation through Jesus as our Christ.
To God, the abuse, the suffering, the cruel death of Jesus on the cross, was worth it all, because through it he adopted us into his own family—forever!
Some years ago, a missionary in a small coastal village in East Africa was explaining to kids, who never had anything of their own, why believers give gifts to each other on Christmas day.
"The gift,” she said, “is an expression of our joy over the birth of Jesus and our friendship for each other."
When Christmas came, one little boy brought the teacher a unique and a very beautiful seashell.
She asked, "Where on earth did you ever find such a beautiful shell?"
”There’s only one place,” the lad said, and he named an isolated bay several miles away.
So taken by the beauty of the little shell and how far the child had to go to get it, she finally stammered: "Why ... why, it’s gorgeous ... wonderful, but you shouldn’t have gone all that way to get the gift for me."
His dark eyes brightened to match the beam of his smile as he explained, "Long walk part of gift."
Each step of the way, the child anticipated the joy his gift would bring as he trudged the many miles to bring it back.
God, also delighted to make the long trip from heaven to Bethlehem—
• From the splendor of paradise to a dingy, dark manger;
• From that hay-filled stable to a cross;
• From that rugged cross to a borrowed tomb;
• And from that grave back to heaven.
And we ask, "Why all this trouble, God?"
And our ever-loving Father replies, "Long walk part of gift."
Since God has gone to all of that trouble, how much effort have we made…
• To explore this gift that he has given,
• To find out what all it means to us,
• To ingest it… digest it… and invest it in our own lives?
Or, is your gift still wrapped in swaddling clothes lying in a manger?
Let’s unwrap this gift and see just what we have!
Hebrews 1:1 God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past (in the Old Testament) to the fathers by the prophets,
Back then, each generation had to have a new revelation. Like an unassembled puzzle, God revealed himself a piece at a time gradually putting his picture together.
2 has in these last days (in the New Testament) spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds;
God is fully revealed in the person of Jesus our Christ.
There is no need for, nor will there ever be, any other revelation… other than what we have in Jesus himself. Why? Read on:
3 who being the brightness (the flashing forth from the very source of light) of His glory and the express (or exact) image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,
4 having become so much better than the angels, as He has by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they.
At first glance, we can see that God had let the cat out of the bag long before Christmas.
He has given all kinds of hints through the elders and prophets, just so we would not be surprised when the gift arrived.
From these verses, we also see just how big and wonderful the gift is.
This Jesus—this babe in the manger—is the creator of the entire universe.
He owns it! God the Father gave it to him!
And it pleased the father that our Jesus is all that the Father is—he shares equally his glory, his majesty, and his purpose.
And now we come to the really good part: When He had by Himself purged our sins, (he) sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high…
There it is: The chief purpose of God’s great gift, After he died to cleanse us from the stain of sin, he sat down in the place of honor at the right hand of the majestic God of heaven.
There, we’ve unwrapped it.
Now, let’s take a good look at it!
We’ll let the New Living Testament help us.
4 This shows that God’s Son is far greater than the angels, just as the name God gave him is far greater than their names.
5 For God never said to any angel what he said to Jesus: "You are my Son. Today I have become your Father." (Ps 2:7) And again God said, "I will be his Father, and he will be my Son." (2 Sam 7:14)
6 And then, when he presented his honored Son to the world, God said, "Let all the angels of God worship him."
God’s great gift to us is the object of worship by all of the heavenly host who remained in heaven after the fall of Lucifer.
Every last one of them fully adores the gift that God has given us.
Can we ever fully grasp what the gift of Jesus as our Christ really means to us?
He is the first-born!
Colossians 1:15…the firstborn of every creature:
16 For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him:
17 And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.
18 And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.
He is the heir of all things.
He is before all things in priority and in preeminence.
John 1:12 tells us that any and all who receive the gift of Jesus as our Christ… to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name.
Paul reminds us in Galatians 3:26, that we are the children of God, by faith in Christ Jesus.
And in Romans 8:17, Paul adds: And if children,
Then heirs; heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together.
21 All creation anticipates the day when it will join God’s children in glorious freedom from death and decay.
The gift of Jesus as our Christ surely keeps on giving.
1 Peter 1:4 For God has reserved a priceless inheritance for his children. It is kept in heaven for you, pure and undefiled, beyond the reach of change and decay.
5 And God, in his mighty power, will protect you until you receive this salvation, because you are trusting him. It will be revealed on the last day for all to see.
6 So be truly glad! There is wonderful joy ahead, even though it is necessary for you to endure many trials for a while.
This is the gift that God gave to us on that first Christmas!
Now, back to Hebrews, Chapter 1:
We find just how superior our gift is.
He is superior in his relationship to creation.
Heb 1:7 And of the angels He says: "Who makes His angels spirits And His ministers a flame of fire."
This quotation from Psalm 45:6 confirms that Christ is superior in his ministry—his purpose.
8 But to the Son He says: "Your throne, O God, is forever and ever; a scepter of righteousness is the scepter of Your Kingdom.
The angels are mere messengers, but our Jesus is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. His reign is forever and his administration is righteous—that is, according to God’s plan—perfect, honest, and fair.
And, in him… if any man be IN CHRIST, he is a anew creature (2 Cor. 5:17).
Our faith—our acceptance of God’s gift—makes us a new person.
None of the old went into the making of the new.
We are designed, built, and equipped to live on the Spiritual plane with our Lord and Savior.
9 You have loved righteousness (God’s plan) and hated lawlessness (Satan’s agenda); Therefore God, Your God, has anointed you with the oil of gladness more than your companions."
Jesus is superior in his appointment—his position and his authority.
10 And: "You, LORD, in the beginning laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands.
If we need further proof, here it is: Our Jesus—our great Christmas gift—not only rules the universe; He made it!
Our gift is superior to all of creation.
And we become part of him!
He will endure; but what he made will not last!
11 They will perish, but you remain; and they will all grow old like a garment;
12 Like a cloak you will fold them up, and they will be changed. But you are the same, and your years will not fail.”
Jesus is superior in his Character—his person!
Jesus will fold up this entire universe just like we do our pajamas as we prepare for a new day.
In time, he will create a new heaven and a new earth.
But, God assures us that Jesus will remain the same and his years will not fail.
Jesus is a gift that will keep on giving—forever!
13 And God never said to an angel, as he did to his Son, "Sit in honor at my right hand until I humble your enemies, making them a footstool under your feet."
Our gift—our Jesus—is superior in his position.
He is in the position of absolute authority.
14 But angels are only servants. They are spirits sent from God to care for those who will receive salvation.
This gift keeps on giving,
• Through his Spirit implanted within us,
• Through the Body of Christ into which we are immersed, and
• Through the angels who minister to those of us who accept God’s great gift.
But be sure to read the instructions.
2:1 So we must listen very carefully to the truth we have heard, or we may drift away from it.
Drifting away from Jesus… can be catastrophic.
4:1 God’s promise of entering his place of rest still stands, so we ought to tremble with fear that some of you might fail to get there.
Our only legitimate fear is leaving a single promise of God unclaimed. What a great gift we have—a gift that gives both rest and abundance throughout all eternity. Thank you Lord. Thank you for taking the long walk to make it possible.