Summary: Jesus is the Gift, the greatest gift to all mankind.
Sunday, December 03, 2006 – AM
If you could have the one thing that you want most of all given to you this Christmas, what would that gift be?
This is the time of year when our materialistic society becomes more materialistic than ever. Across the nation people will be spending money that they don’t have, using easy credit cards that are already overloaded with high interest rates attached, some as high as 36%. That means that they will still be paying for this year’s gifts 5 or even 10 years from now if all they do is make minimum payments.
Gift giving is a wonderful thing. And I don’t think that anyone here would refuse a gift either. But let us not forget about the most important gift of all. With all of the hype and glitz of the season, it is easy to get distracted from what is really happening behind the scenes. The age old struggle for the souls of men continues on and the greatest gift is often forgotten or overlooked.
In the year 1809 Europe was locked in struggles for power and territory. Napoleon was sweeping through Austria; blood was flowing freely as soldiers and civilians alike were killed by the thousands. No one was concerned about the birth of a few babies. Their focus on world politics and man’s inhumanity to man overshadowed everything else and the birth of some very significant babies went unnoticed.
Among those born that year were William Gladstone who was destined to become one of England’s finest statesman. Alfred Tennyson was born to a little known minister and his wife. The child would become a prolific writer and would affect the literary world as few had done before. In the newly establish American nation, Oliver Wendell Holmes was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts. And not far away in Boston, a child was born whose name was Edgar Allan Poe who would live a tragic life but leave the world with poems and stories that are still popular to this day. 1809 was also the year that a young physician and his wife named their newborn son, Charles Robert. The doctor’s last name was Darwin, and that child would bring to the world the teachings of evolution that would rock the scientific world and shake the very foundation of Christianity. Also that same year, the cries of a newborn infant were heard in a rugged, one room log cabin in the backwoods of Hardin County, Kentucky. The baby was named Abraham Lincoln.
If there had been news broadcasts at that time, I’m certain these words would have been heard: "The destiny of the world is being shaped on an Austrian battlefield today." But history was actually being shaped in the cradles of England and America.
All around the cities and towns of Israel, in the time of the Roman occupation, the concern on everyone’s mind was taxation and Jewish revolution. The big news was focused on the political scene. Man’s focus has always been on the wrong thing, because all we can see is the physical realm. The Jews missed the greatest news of all time.
In a little hamlet called Bethlehem, in a dirty stable, their Messiah was born, and Jesus Christ was given. This was the greatest gift of all, the gift of a savior.
The most detailed account of the birth of Jesus Christ is given to us in the Book of Luke. Luke was a physician by trade, before he became a disciple. History tells us that Luke was a Christian already when he met Paul the apostle and became Paul’s companion in his missionary journeys.
Luke didn’t understand all of the events of the early years of the church but was taught by Paul. It is said that Luke learned most of the things that he wrote about in the first few chapters of the Book of Luke after listening to Paul, talking with some of the original disciples and by sitting down with Mary, the mother of Jesus, for a long interview. It wasn’t until the year 60 AD, nearly 30 years after the resurrection, that Luke, a gentile doctor, sat down and wrote his book, giving us the story of the Gospel. Three years later, he would begin to write another book. That would be called the Book of Acts of the Apostles.
Luke wasn’t there to see it all happen first hand, but he learned from those who had seen it with their own eyes and held the hand of Jesus while he walked this earth. Some historians say that Luke was practicing medicine in the city of Tarsus and that is where he probably met Paul for the first time. However it came about, I am glad that the Holy Spirit put them together so that we could have the account of the gift of the Savior that Luke has given to us.