December 25, 2011
Luke 2:1-14 (15-20)
Here it is—the day we’ve been waiting for and spending for during the past few weeks if not all year. I suspect most people get up earlier on Christmas Sunday than on an average Sunday. After all, what self-respecting boy or girl lets Mom and Dad sleep in on Christmas Day?
It would be fun to ask the kids about some of the gifts they received for Christmas. I’m sure there was a selection of trains, trucks and dolls for the little ones and various forms of video games, iPods, iPads and other expensive technology. When I was a kid, I got excited about the big packages—the bigger the better—but some ladies often will tell you some of the best gifts come in small packages, particularly the kind from a jewelry store!
Yet we gather on this day to remember the greatest gift ever given didn’t come in a box but in a manger. The greatest gift wasn’t wrapped in paper and ribbons but in swaddling clothes. Christmas is all about the greatest gift: the gift of Jesus, God in flesh, God with us, Immanuel.
Why is Jesus the greatest gift of all?
He is the gift who takes away fear. So many people today live in fear. There are the many phobias to consider, but there is also the sheer anxiety of life in a stressful age. Even as we celebrate the holiday, there are those worried about family, jobs, the future. Fear and anxiety are ever-present realities for many.
Yet, the coming of Jesus signals the arrival of a new age, a day when we need not fear, because God has come close to us. The incarnation, the act by which God has entered history and humanity by taking on flesh, is a promise that we are not alone. He is with us.
He is the gift who brings peace. There seems to be a shortage of peace, doesn’t there? American soldiers and sailors are engaged in military action around the globe. Even here at home, we go to extraordinary lengths to protect ourselves from terrorists and criminals. We pay a great price for peace, yet it seems to elude us.
However, during Christmas, we remember Jesus has come, bringing the only peace that really matters. Do you remember the Billy Graham book Peace with God? That’s the peace that brings the only ultimate satisfaction and security. Jesus is the Prince of Peace, and He can bring peace to your life and mine if we open our hearts to Him.
He is the gift who offers salvation. “Unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” What greater gift could there be than the gift of salvation?
What does it mean when we call Jesus our Savior? It means He not only taught us about God’s kingdom, but He took upon Himself the punishment for sin that was rightfully yours and mine to pay. Yet, knowing we never could earn salvation on our own, Jesus paid the price for us so He can extend to us the free gift of salvation. We can be saved not because of anything we have done, but because of what Jesus did on the cross. That’s what we mean by grace.
“Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost, but now am found, was blind but now I see.” That is the gift we celebrate today, and if you never have experienced that gift, that grace in your own life, then what better day to give your life to Christ than on Christmas day?