Summary: The birth of Jesus from Heaven’s view.
It’s almost that time of year; Christmas is only 8 days away and I know many of you, especially those with children, can hear the countdown each and every day. This is also the same time where we find those unseemly and unwanted gifts. You know the gifts I am talking about; a book about how to raise chimpanzees because your aunt Dorothy thought it might help in raising your children or the worst gift known to mankind; fruitcakes. An American Express survey about Christmas gifts found that the fruitcake was chosen most often (31%) from a list of "worst" holiday gifts. It even finished ahead of "no gift at all." When asked how to dispose of a bad gift, 30% would hide it in the closet, 21% would return it, and 19% would give it away. No one really wants a fruitcake. It’s pretty bad when getting no gift at all would have been better received than getting a fruitcake. However, I will say that receiving some of Mary Dean’s monkey bread for Christmas wouldn’t be too bad at all. (Hint, Hint) I remember that I once received a fancy box of fancy looking pens after helping a friend get home for Christmas from college. I thanked his mother for the gift and sent them on their way. It wouldn’t be until almost a year later that I actually tried to use one and can you guess what happened? It didn’t work. That made its way up to the top of my unwanted gifts list.
You always know which gift is the unwanted one too; it just doesn’t look the same as the others. It comes in some ancient wrapping paper from when your parents were children. It usually smells like it has been hidden in a moldy basement for a few weeks, and in many cases, takes the shape of a cake box. When you go to read who shipped it to you, you find old Aunt Dorothy’s name written all over it. You know she just wants to send you something to show that she cares; you just may wish (as I do) that it was something a little more edible or at least useful; maybe we can feed those fruitcakes to Gary’s dogs. We have our expectations too. We know what we want it to look like and what it should do.
Many of us have heard the story of the wise men who came to visit Jesus; I encourage you to find where it says three because no number is given but I can imagine that it was a much greater number than three. Here we see almost the same scene as we can see under the Christmas tree with Aunt Dorothy’s wonderful fruitcake. The other packages are beautifully wrapped with a nice bow on top and little tags with names on them while the fruitcake is crinkled and crumpled because of the shipping. Listen to the story of the wise men coming to baby Jesus. “Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. He sent them to Bethlehem and said, "Go and make a careful search for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him." After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen in the east went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.”
Among all the wonderful presents, lay baby Jesus. If you would have looked at that scene the glimmer of the gold and the costly amount for the spices would have bowled you over. The wise men truly were wise at least during this scene of history because they chose the strangely packaged gift from God instead of keeping the money they had brought. God had chosen quite an unusual way to send our Savior. Unfortunately, the wise men seem to be in the minority of people who would have anything to do with Jesus. His entire life was packaged roughly. Everyone around him, especially in the Jewish kingdom, was looking for something else. They wanted a king who would over-throw the Roman government and build a society on earth. Jesus’ entire life had a different packaging than the people wanted. His birth and his family posed a problem to them. He also lived his life counter-culturally. He didn’t go with the flow of society. The last and worst packaging his life wore came in the shape of a cross. As you all well know, you must unwrap a present to have what it offers. Today, let’s unwrap the life of Jesus and reap the benefits.