One Christmas, my wife, Janet, had a necklace made from a broken piece of my grandmother’s china. These necklaces were made by broken women in a local women’s shelter that our church supported financially. Their jewelry is a wonderful reminder of how God can bring beauty into brokenness. These necklaces remind us of history’s first Christmas gift.
For God so loved the world, that He gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life (John 3:16).
One of the first people to hear about this gift was a top-level leader in Jerusalem named Nicodemus. He was an expert in religious and civil law, but tensions were high between the authorities and Jesus, so he visited Jesus at night to ask Him about eternal life. Nicodemus had a hard time wrapping his sharp mind around this simple, generous gift — and so will some of our lost friends, family, and neighbors. Nevertheless, our job is to share the gift, not sell it.
We are all objects of God’s love and the intended recipients of history’s first Christmas present. The Christmas story is a true love story of rescue and redemption that deserves to be both celebrated and shared this month with anyone who is willing to listen. “For God so loved the world” means that every person in our family, neighborhood, school and/or workplace is someone worth saving.
Janet and I live in a very diverse international city, which makes sharing history’s first Christmas gift a challenge. Manger scenes are great reminders for me of the diversity of people who eventually came to visit the newborn King — Jewish shepherds and Iranian magi. Even today, as hostilities rise between Iran and Israel, the Prince of Peace came to rescue all their people from sin and death.
As recipients of this grace-filled gospel Gift, we have the privilege and responsibility of regifting it. This month provides us with many organic opportunities to do this. Some families celebrate Christmas each year by singing “Happy Birthday” to Jesus and baking a cake. At one such home, as Christmas Day was winding down, someone asked a 5-year-old if she had gotten everything she wanted for Christmas. The little girl paused and then said, “No, but it wasn’t my birthday.” Christmas is a birthday party for Jesus, yet this party is unique in that the guest of honor brings the gifts. More accurately — the guest is the gift.
Nicodemus found out that night that his works just weren’t working. As a Pharisee serving on the ruling Sanhedrin, he was used to fasting, giving, praying and memorizing Scripture. He was very religious, yet he was sitting on death row. Nicodemus could try to serve out his sentence on parole, but what he really needed was a pardon. So do we. Jesus took our sin by taking our place on the cross.
The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 6:23)
God did more than simply send an angel or prophet; He sent His only begotten Son to rescue us. So, what are you going to do with that gift? If you have personally received history’s first Christmas gift, December is a great time to regift it.