Summary: This sermon challenges our value assingment by looking through the eyes of Bible characters who really missed it.
S120901 The best Christmas gift John 3:16
Ask this rhetorical question: What was the most expensive gift you ever received for Christmas? What was the most expensive gift you ever gave?
A pastor friend of mine says most of us go too far into debt buying gifts we can’t afford to give to people we really don’t like all that much anyway. He is right. We assign different value to the people in our lives. I have to be honest, my children and grandchildren will receive the most valuable of my Christmas gifts and from there we use an imaginary sliding scale of lesser and lesser value. Some of you will be lucky to even get a Christmas card from me. I hope you have a good sense of humor today.
Occasionally people will lovingly seek to bless us with a love gift. It usually follows a time when Gail and I have helped a family through a life-changing event like a funeral or a wedding. The size of the love gift is not as important as you would think because we are independently wealthy. (Humor). More importantly the gift says we love you and appreciate your help. What is interesting to me is how the family decides on the size of the gift. I wonder do people give in relationship as to how they value my time? Maybe the family sat around the kitchen table discussed what would be normal to give, or what is average. You give an average gift for average help. Did they actually debate my gift like this, “His help was not worth $30 but it surely was worth more than $10. Lets give him $15. As a help to me in the future, please, if you ever feel inclined to give Gail and me a love gift, make it end in a 0, like $10 or 20 etc. You can’t imagine what went through my mind when I opened an envelope from a family one time and there was a check for $7.25.
Engage the congregation in a pricing game. Ask them to estimate the value of objects in the worship room. Enlist assistants to tape a blank piece of paper on each object and write the estimated value. After the congregation has estimated several object values ask for a child to come and stand by you on the stage. Ask, “What value is this child?” Tape a blank piece of paper on the child and then draw the sign on the cross and say, “This is how much God thinks (the child’s name) is worth.
The gifts the Magi lavished on Jesus reflected the value they placed on the child. They gave him gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
The value of gold is classic. It has always been the standard of commerce. It is the most valued of all metals. It was the best you could give anyone.
Frankincense was more of a symbolic gift. It was valuable, but more so by what it represented. It was used by people of the ancient near East as an aid to their praying. The incense was fragrant and spoke of the pleasant smell their prayers had in the nostrils of God. It rose as smoke upward into the air as did their prayers. Frankincense was a gift of prayer. It was a spiritual gift.
Myrrh was essentially medicinal oil. The Magi gave this valuable oil to the child as a visible affirmation of prophecy. They knew the Jewish prophets of the captivity said this child king would be for the healing of the nations. Myrrh stood for what his life would produce.
Mary Magdalene, of New Testament times, poured an essence of perfume on Jesus that was worth thousands of dollars in our economy. She dramatically demonstrated her value system lavishly in front of God and everybody.
Matthew, Mark and Luke begin their Gospels with lineage and Earthly family. John begins his account with the heavenly pedigree. In John 1:1 he goes as far back as is possible to go, “In the beginning . . .” His tracing of God’s footprints advance through chapter two until in chapter 3 he details in absolute clarity the values of God and the extent to which He was willing to go to follow through with His gift. God truly is the greatest lover. He gave the greatest gift that could be given all because of the value He placed on you and me.
Burden of the message
This message deals with values. I hope this message will help all of us assign value as would Jesus.
God has given great gifts before, but Jesus is the best.
Why is Jesus the best Christmas gift?
Because He is what we really need most