Summary: This message focuses on our interacting with the "true Jesus" inside the box versus just the "outer" Jesus.
Which Jesus Will You Unwrap This Season?
I have been thinking about what I should share with you this morning as most would expect to hear a message pertaining to Christ’s birth and the meaning of Christmas. But this morning I want to do just a little more than that, I want to challenge you. When you think about your last five Christmas’, is there anything different about this Christmas than those? What are you doing different this year versus previous years. I know that I asked each of you to only spend this year what you could afford to pay for this year and some of you may have done that, but does that represent a real change? In reality this is not the type of change I am talking about. The change I am talking about is spiritual.
I. For God So Loved The World
John 3:16 says “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” We all know this Scripture but do we understand it? When Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden and was spiritually separated from God, the decision was made that an ultimate sacrifice would be given in order to reunite man with his Creator. This decision was made out of love. (I will talk more about this gift of love in my message next week.) This Scripture states that Jesus arrival on earth was motivated by; determined by; and fulfilled an act of love on God’s part. Because He loved us so greatly He gave His only Son as a sacrifice for each of us so that we would be able to have a relationship with Him. This was the gift from whence we now celebrate this season we call Christmas. It was a physical gift that held a spiritual purpose. But what are we doing with the gift? Jesus was given to us – He was a love gift. What are we doing with the gift that God gave us in His Son and how are we demonstrating our gratitude for the love that He has shown us?
II. The Alabaster Box
I want to give you a natural example to demonstrate how you think about how you would answer the questions I just asked about what you’re doing with the gift that God gave us and how are we showing our gratitude for the love that was shown towards us. I will need two of my children to come forward and choose a gift. (For those of you reading this, one box appears empty while the other obviously has something in it.)
I want you to think about a one year-old who receives a gift for Christmas or for a birthday. What fascinates one year-olds more, the gift inside the box or the box itself? Oftentimes it is the box itself. A small child will open the box, cast aside whatever was within the box and then begin playing with the box. I am not sure why this happens, but maybe it is because in their small minds it is the box that they see as being given to them and not the gift that is on the inside. So they take the gift and cast it to the side and begin to play with the box. It is only after the parents pick up the discarded gift and places it before the child that the child begins to play with the gift – but the box is still kept close by. Although the child might play with the gift for a while, they are still fascinated by what can be done with the box. One year I suggested to Nikki that we should give the girls large empty boxes because if they received something in a large box then that box became a house, a carry-all for other things; whatever their minds could imagine. Think of the money we could have saved by giving out empty boxes when they were small and allowing them to use their imaginations as they played with it. They could have gone back to school and bragged about their empty boxes that became a house; fort; wagon, etc. (Ok, I know I am imagining this!)
We sometime treat God’s gift of Christ to us like a small child does with a gift wrapped box. As the child sets the gift to the side and plays with the box, we accept the outer image of Christ and never dig deeper into the box to understand and interact with what is on the inside of Him. You see, the outer imagine of Christ we display on our walls (pictures of man’s idea of what Christ looked like); on our cars through the bumper stickers that preaches to the world; around our necks with the crucifixes we wear proudly; through the tattoos that we imprint on our bodies; and through the Churches that we attend and worship in. All of these activities represent our playing with the box – the outer wrapping. The outer wrapping is what is needed to protect the gift that is on the inside. The small child sometimes sees the outer wrapping as the gift and the gift itself becomes meaningless. Let me share a story with you from the book of Matthew. This story is about an alabaster box filled with expensive perfume. Turn with me to Matthew chapter twenty-six. Look at verse seven.