Summary: On this holy night of good news of great joy, I propose to you that Jesus is the Greatest Gift and the One we should focus on.
CHRISTMAS EVE SERVICE 2002
“The Greatest Gift”
* All wrapped? Looking forward to gifts. I’m looking forward to
That new BMW convertible BBC must have in my driveway!
* What is a gift?
Something freely given, w/out any strings, expectations, etc.
* Why give gifts?
Love; joy; makes us feel good; deserved?; acknowledgment
James 1:17-18: Every good thing bestowed and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation, or shifting shadow. In the exercise of His will He brought us forth by the word of truth, so that we might be, as it were, the first fruits among His creatures.”
* What is the greatest gift you have ever received?
Often, when we hear or talk about the Christmas story and we think about gifts, what is the first thing that comes to mind? More often than not, it is the gifts of the “wise men” or more accurately magi, isn’t it?
So let’s stand together and read this again. Reading: Mt. 1:22-25. This is “the set-up.” Note sign of 1:25, a quote of Isa. 7:14 and direct ref. also to Isa. 43:5; Ezek. 34:30; 37:27-28; & Zech. 8:3. All refer to time when God has again turned His face to His people, dealt with their sins, and dwells with them again. This is achieved through Jesus!
We continue: Mt. 2:1-12.
On this holy night of good news of great joy, I propose to you that Jesus is the Greatest Gift and the One we should focus on.
Even the Magi recognized this, as symbolized by their gifts and actions.
1. They sought Him out.
2. They rejoinced exceedingly with great joy (v.10).
3. Gold: a symbol of tremendous worth and value. Would remind the Jews of the lavishly overlaid tabernacle, Temple and Ark of the Covenant.
4. Frankincense: a white-colored fragrant gum from a tree. It was an ingredient in the holy anointing oil with which priests were consecrated to their sacred function (Ex. 30:34). It was also added with oil to the meal offerings.
5. Myrhh: Another fragrant substance, and an ingredient in the oil with which Aaron and his successors were anointed. At the crucifixion it was again offered to Jesus in wine, probably to deaden the pain, and it was an ingredient in the spices designed for anointing his body by the prostitute. Finally, it was used for embalming the dead.
Further, I would like you to reflect tonight on this question: “What is your chosen response to this offering of the Greatest Gift?
A. How & why is it the Greatest Gift?
1.) The gift of JESUS is (a) God with us; (b) Salvation.
2.) It is freely given.
3.) It is eternal.
4.) It is up to you to accept it or reject it.
John 4:10: Jesus answered and said to her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.”
Ro. 5:15-17: But the free gift is not like the transgression. For if by the transgression of the one the many died, much more did the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abound to the many. And the gift is not like that which came through the one who sinned; for on the one hand the judgment arose from one transgression resulting in condemnation, but on the other hand the free gift arose from many transgressions resulting in justification. For if by the transgression of the one, death reigned through the one, much more those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ. . .
Ephesians 2:8-9 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, that no one should boast.
B. Your Reaction?
Essentially 2 ways to react: Like Herod & the Pharisees & Sadducees or Like the Magi. Let us compare:
1. Herod sought to kill.
Magi sought for worship.
2. Herod needed to ask where the newborn King might be.
Magi relied on faith and followed the star.
3. Herod intimated false worship.
Magi genuine worship, they went themselves to see & worship.
4. Herod et al. responded w/ being trouble.
Magi responded with great joy.
5. Herod secretly sent out to know the news.
Magi went openly.
6. Herod stood by for the report.
Magi went forth and presented significant gifts.
7. Herod feared & tried to control “fate”.
Magi saw & welcomed fulfilled prophecy = God in control = hope