Summary: This is a Christmas Sunday message seeking to have us rethink the kinds of gifts we need to give at Christmas time.
The Gift We Owe
This past Wednesday night in Pioneers Nursery class, I asked the question, “who can tell me why we celebrate Christmas.” The first response was “so that we can get gifts” and the second was “so that we can see Santa Claus.” I was shocked at the response of the first two kids with us being a bible believing and bible teaching church.
I was beginning to feel like a failure until the third child said, “we are celebrating Jesus’ birthday.” Needless to say, I quickly changed the lesson from the calling of the disciples to the real Christmas story.
Christmas and gifts have almost become one and the same word for many of us. God was the first to present a gift on Christmas, and that gift was Jesus Christ. God had a reason and a purpose for the gift of Christ. We give gifts to make others feel good. God gave His gift to change the lives and the final destination of the billions of people.
When we think of the Christmas story, we think of Mary and of Joseph, of angels and of shepherds. We think of stars and of wise men. We think of mangers and of inns, we think of donkeys and sheep, of Herod and of Egypt. But the Christmas story does not begin in Bethlehem. It began in the heart of God before the world was ever created.
When people look at images and pictures of the baby Jesus, they are tempted to think, “Oh how sweet.” What they fail to realize, is that the coming of Jesus Christ into the world sealed the fate and destiny of millions and millions of people throughout the course of history.
That child in the manger was fully human, and yet at the same time he was fully God. We cannot fully understand that but it was true. Jesus was born of the virgin Mary, because from the beginning it was the Holy Spirit who conceived Jesus in her womb. This was no ordinary child. This child was sinless in that it was born of God from the beginning. None of the sinful nature that was down from Adam through all humanity was present. God’s purpose for humankind was being shown.
God’s purpose began with a gift. For we are told in John 3:16-19
"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.
Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil.”
In these three verses we find the reason for the Christmas story. But if you look at the verses closely, you find that Christmas is a reason for hope and for despair. The good news is that God loves the people of the world. More good news God gave Jesus Christ, who was born of the virgin Mary, so that all of us who believe in Him will not have to worry about going to hell as payment for our sins. We will not perish. We will have eternal life. The life change begins right now.
More good news, “God did not send Jesus to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” God is not angry with people because of their sin. Christmas is proof that God is accepting those regardless of what they have done if they come to His Son Jesus Christ. Whoever believes in Jesus is not condemned. The person is not found guilty.
But then the bad news start and the reason for despair becomes evident. It says whoever does not believe is condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. Christmas is proof that before coming to Jesus Christ, we are lost and have no hope of eternal life when we die. Nothing awaits us but the payment for all the wrong we have done.
Jesus is not going to condemn us. We will have condemned ourselves for not taking God’s way of escape. The Bible teaches, if we do not have the Son, then we do not have the Father. How good we are, or have been, or will be has nothing to do with it. Without Christ we are condemned for there is no other name by which we can be saved.
There is a reason we do not accept Jesus Christ. The verse tells us, we prefer to live without God’s influence in our lives because we want to do the things we want to do. We know that Jesus came into the world, but we love ourselves too much to let it affect us.