Summary: The best gift is Jesus’ birth, the coming of the Messiah, the entry of God into the world. We learn three things from the gift of the Christ child
The Best Gift of Christmas
Kelvin Parks tells the story of talking with his neighbor about whether he had completed his shopping. He said he had bought a diamond ring. Kelvin said his wife had her heart set on a new car…. A Cadillac Escalade. So he asked his neighbor, “Didn’t your wife want a new Cadillac?” His neighbor replied, “Reverend, where am I going to get a fake Cadillac?” So what was the best gift you received at Christmas?
James Harnish tells the story of a woman in Tampa who probably received the best Christmas present of anyone. It came the week before Christmas. In August she had been diagnosed with severe cardiomyopathy, a rare heart disorder which causes the muscels of the heart to become inflexible. In fact, it’s terminal. The only hope is a heart transplant. Over the past five months, she had become progressively weaker. More and more of her active life has been taken from heras she waited for the possibility of a new heart. Then one day, at 2 am on a cold morning, she was awakened and told that a new heart was on the way. By 4 am, she was in surgery and by 10 am the next morning, she was out of surgery and in the ICU. When James Harnish visited her a couple of days after, they talked about the gift of a new heart and she said, “You know, this was the second time that someone has died for me.” Today’s Scripture reminds us that the best gift of Christmas isn’t under a tree, it is the gift that God gave to us in a manger some 2000 years ago in Bethlehem. The best gift this season towers over all the others because it is the most value gift of all. It is a gift full of mercy, love, hope and peace, joy and forgiveness. The best gift is Jesus’ birth, the coming of the Messiah, the entry of God into the world. And it was a gift which continued to give as he healed the sick, fed the hungry, forgave the sins of those far from God and eventually died on the cross for us.
We learn three things from the gift of the Christ child. It is a gift of kindness and love. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only son.” There are no strings attached to God’s gift. God didn’t give to us so that we would obey His commands perfectly. God didn’t give this gift because he wants us to love him. God gave because He loved us. And in spite of willfulness, rebellion and sin, He still loves us. Paul writes in Romans 5:8, "But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." A gift in response to goodness is not a gift but a reward. What God gives to us is not a reward. We don’t deserve it. The love of God motivated His giving Jesus Christ to us. If we want to experience joy, we need to first receive God’s gift of love.
Second, God gave of His best, His one and only son. Our Scripture today puts it this way, “he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.” Dana Chau tells the story about a missionary in Africa who had poor health and depended on goat milk for his source of vitamin. One day, the tribal leader came to visit the missionary. After a few minutes, it was obvious that the tribal leader was interested in the goat. The missionary decided to give the goat to the tribal leader as a gesture of kindness to build the trust needed to share the love of God. In return, the tribal leader gave the missionary his walking stick. Without the goat milk, the missionary became weaker and weaker over the next couple of days. Using the walking stick he got from the tribal leader, he walked into the village to purchase some goat milk. When he offered to buy the goal milk, his money was not accepted. Instead, he was told that he was entitled to anything in this village that he wanted. When the missionary asked why, the villagers explained that the walking stick he held was the scepter belonging to the tribal leader. Possessing that scepter entitled him to everything in the village. And here’s the promise for us in this gift: since God gave us His one and only Son, we can be confident that He will give us everything else that we will need in our lives.