The Gifts of Christmas
The music of Christmas has always been a blessing to me. The carols, the fun songs, Rudolph – all of it. I love Christmas music. I was listening to some this morning and thinking about the gifts that we give at Christmas. I think we most often go back in the Bible to the coming of the Wise Men and the gifts they gave to Jesus. But I think there is much more there that we haven’t explored.
Mary’s gift. I’ve thought about Mary a lot and tried to imagine the place she found herself. It’s hard to fathom what a young woman (probably a teenager) felt when she heard the news from the angel Gabriel that she was to have God’s Son. So what was it that Mary gave to the Lord Jesus? She gave herself. Oh, yes, she gave her womb to hold Him and nurture Him and allow Him to grow inside of her. But she gave far more than that. She gave everything she was. If you’re a mother you know exactly what I’m talking about. Mothers don’t just carry a baby like you would put eggs in an incubator. They carry that child and they love that child so powerfully and they endure the sickness and pain of pregnancy, the discomfort and then the agony of childbirth for the love of that little baby. Mary gave everything that she was to this baby. She gave up her plans, her ideas, and her expectations. In return she was privileged to birth our Savior into this world (her Savior too!). Could you give a greater gift than she gave? I don’t know how.
Joseph’s gift – I’m not sure we know what to do with Joseph. He was a carpenter. He was probably an older man who had been betrothed to Mary when he found that she was pregnant. His first thought was to divorce her privately. But the angel came and told him that Mary had done nothing wrong. She had not been unfaithful. Instead she had been blessed with a child that was God’s own Son and the Savior of His people. Joseph’s gift was to lay aside his reputation and his pride. Joseph’s gift was to take Mary as his wife in spite of what people might say. And I’m sure they said plenty. He gave up himself to God’s plan. That is a gift befitting a king.
There were other gifts. Elizabeth gave wise counsel and love to a tender young woman who had the most improbable and impossible pregnancy. An unknowing innkeeper gave Jesus the poorest and most unlikely of birth places when he turned them away from his already full inn. The shepherds came and brought the wildest story imaginable – angels appearing to announce the coming of Messiah! The wise men brought gold, frankincense, and myrhh. Simon and Anna brought praise to God and affirmation of who Jesus was. Herod – Herod’s gift was an extension of who he was. He killed innocent babies who happened to have been born around the same time as Jesus in the area of Bethlehem. It was a gift from hell.
But all of these gifts placed the birth and the life and the death of Jesus into its proper setting. He didn’t come to live a privileged life of power and wealth and ease. He was born to poor, working class people. He grew up with the knowledge of hard work but also with the love of family and the faith of His people. He grew up with God’s blessing and approval.
One thing led to another and Jesus preached and taught, corrected and chided, healed and delivered as only the Son of God could. He identified with each of us and He loved every single mother’s son and daughter among us. He died for us. His gift was pain, suffering, sorrow, guilt, and despair. He gave His life’s blood to pay your sin debt and mine. “Thanks be to God for His unspeakable Gift!”
So the gifts of Christmas are real. The Father sent His only Son and our entire world has been turned upside down. Thank God! Where would we be without Christmas?
“But when the right time came, God sent his Son, born of a woman, subject to the law. God sent him to buy freedom for us who were slaves to the law, so that he could adopt us as his very own children. And because we are his children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, prompting us to call out, “Abba, Father.” Now you are no longer a slave but God’s own child. And since you are his child, God has made you his heir.” (Galatians 4:4–7, NLT)