Summary: In this special season of giving, it’s important for us to cherish God’s great gift.
It’s that time of year again. . . Christmas. How are you doing on purchasing those Christmas presents? They say that the Saturday before Christmas is the busiest shopping day of the year, but the most grueling shopping day of the year is the day after Christmas. That’s the day when we return all those presents we didn’t care for. That shirt that was too small, the dress that was popular two seasons ago, and that thing from Aunt Irene that you never could quite figure out.
That’s the tough thing about buying gifts. We want to give things that will be cherished for a lifetime, but we’re lucky if it’s not returned the next day. We want our gifts to remind friends how much we care for them, but most often, they cant’ remember what you gave them last year.
There’s a lot of gifts on the market today that have a short shelf life, but God has some priceless gifts for us that we can treasure for a lifetime.
One gift we should treasure is the give of the virgin birth. No one really knows when Jesus was born. God didn’t choose a specific day for us to celebrate His entrance into the world, but it’s an event that the Bible says is certainly worth celebrating. God appeared to a common Jewish girl and told her that he had a part for her to play in the greatest event in history. She was to give birth to the long hoped for Messiah. Mary was so overjoyed at the thought of being chosen to bring the Savior into the world that she sang a song of joy with words like, "My soul praises the Lord; my heart rejoices in God my Savior, because he has shown his concern for his humble servant girl. From now on, all people will say that I am blessed, because the Powerful One has done great things for me. His name is holy." (Luke 1:46-49 NCV). When Mary went to tell her cousin Elizabeth about the good news, who was pregnant with John the Baptist said that he jumped within her when Mary came to visit.
And when Jesus was born to this common couple in a backyard stable in Bethlehem, the angels couldn’t contain their joy and they sang out, " "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests."(Luke 2:14 NIV). The shepherds who heard this chorus were frightened at first, but the God’s angel told them, "Do not be afraid. I am bringing you good news that will be a great joy to all the people. Today your Savior was born in the town of David. He is Christ, the Lord.(Luke 2:10-11 NCV) It’s no wonder that our world pauses to rejoice as we remember God’s great gift--He came to visit us.
But it’s important to note that Jesus was not born in Jerusalem as a son of the ruling class. He did not attract the "movers and shakers" in Jewish society. He was born to a blue collar worker and reared across the tracks in Nazareth. It tells me that God knows the little people of this world. Few of us will ever achieve notoriety and attract the world’s attention, but we all have God’s attention. The Bible says that there’s not a sparrow that falls out of the sky that God doesn’t know about. Jesus even said that God knows how many hairs are on your head! (Matthew10:29)
Another gift we should cherish is the painful crucifixion. Jesus said that he didn’t come into the world to pass out condemnation, but to bring salvation. It was a sound bite that drew the crowds in masses, but few realized what it would take to usher in this promised salvation. Humanity’s sin had to be punished and Jesus was just the person for the job. That’s why, when the political leaders grew nervous about Jesus’ growing power and began to devise plans to have him put to death, Jesus didn’t turn from his mission. He entered Jerusalem for the last time fully anticipating his arrest. He stood quietly during his monkey trial, and he knew the verdict even before it was announced. They whipped him and punched him. They mocked him and spat on him. Then they nailed him to a wooden cross and left him to die there, stripped of all his clothes and dignity. God on a cross.
It’s a bit outlandish to think about such a humiliating event being a treasure we cherish, but Paul said that it is God’s powerful way of saving people. The execution of an innocent man paid the price I owed for my sinfulness. The shed blood of a guiltless man cleansed me of all wrong.