Summary: In this lesson I want us to see several ways in which God's gift of Jesus is beyond description.
For the next few weeks of advent and Christmas, I plan to share a series of messages on “The People of Christmas.” The substance for this series comes from a book that was authored by the late James Montgomery Boice titled The Christ of Christmas.
Christmas is a time of exchanging gifts. Most of the gifts that we give each other can easily be described. But, occasionally, we cannot describe the gift we have received. Perhaps it is because we are overcome with emotion so that “words fail us.” Or perhaps it is because we cannot identify the gift (like the toddler who gives a drawing to his parent who has no idea what the drawing represents). Or perhaps we don’t care about the gift given to us so that we don’t even bother describing it. Other people, of course, are usually able to describe what we might not be able to describe.
So, what could possibly make a gift indescribable? Since all our gifts are describable, the only thing that can possibly make a gift indescribable is if it is more than human. It has to have something of God mixed with it. And that is exactly what Paul had in mind when he wrote 2 Corinthians 9:15. He had been thinking of very human gifts: the gift of money that the Corinthians had sent to the poor Christians in Jerusalem. And the subject of giving had turned his attention to the greatest of all possible gifts, and so Paul exclaimed in 2 Corinthians 9:15 (New International Version):
Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift! (2 Corinthians 9:15)
A week ago the officers, staff, and their spouses had a Christmas dinner at the Pebble Creek Club. After dinner we played “The Newlywed Game.” That’s the game where you have three couples each guess how well they know their spouses. Well, the men were out of the room, and when they returned, one of the questions put to the husbands was, “What is the most romantic gift you have ever given your wife?” One husband gave the right answer. The second husband got the answer wrong. And the third husband had no idea what the right answer was. Boy! Did he ever turn fire-engine red when his wife said it was a romantic negligee!
I suppose that was for him an “indescribable” gift! Even though he might have thought of the gift, he did not want to say what it was in front of all these people. But, did his wife have the same measure of indescribability? Oh no! She was more than willing to share what was obviously a very meaningful gift to her!
When the apostle Paul speaks about Jesus, he describes him as God’s “indescribable” gift. In what ways is Jesus indescribable?
In this lesson I want us to see several ways in which God’s gift of Jesus is beyond description.
I. God’s Gift Is beyond Description Because of the Nature of the Gift Itself
First, God’s gift is beyond description because of the nature of the gift itself.
The gift is Jesus Christ. In order to describe this gift we must be able to describe fully who Jesus is and what he has done. And that cannot be done.
Think of who Jesus is. Jesus is the Second Person of the Trinity. He is fully God. Who can fully understand the nature of God? Of course, no one can. While there is much about God that he has been pleased to reveal to us, there is vastly more about God that we simply do not know because we are finite and he is infinite.
But Jesus is not only fully God, he is also fully man. Even here, we have difficulty describing Jesus. Who can fully understand and explain the Virgin Birth and incarnation of Jesus? Or who can fully explain the two natures of Jesus—his deity and his humanity? Again, God has revealed much to us, but there is so much that we do not understand and cannot describe.
And then, think of what Jesus did. Jesus was primarily born to die, in order to provide salvation for his elect by his sacrifice on the cross. Can we adequately explain Jesus’ sinless life? Or what took place when the Father forsook the Son? No, we cannot fully explain it. It is indescribable.
And so, God’s gift is beyond description because of the nature of the gift itself.
II. God’s Gift Is beyond Description Because of the Grace by which It Is Given
Second, God’s gift is beyond description because of the grace by which it is given.
The gifts that you and I give usually have nothing to do with grace. We give gifts because the recipients of our gifts have some claim upon us: they are family members, co-workers, or people who gave gifts to us last year. Even when we give gifts to an organization like Angel Tree, we do so because we know that they are less fortunate than we are.