For some reason, I never included this passage of Scripture as a “study” in my attempts to come to terms with the birth of Christ, and the gift of God which is eternal life through Him. As clear as a bell, it compresses the message of Christmas into one sentence. And it is stated so simply that you’d have to exercise real effort to miss the point.
Does it strike you as a bit unusual that, in celebrating the Birth of the King, WE (not He) are the ones who are offered “THE GIFT?” In my experience, when there’s a birthday observance the Guest of Honor is the one who receives the Gift!
There’s a lot that can distract and confuse you if you permit that. You may be tricked and trapped into thinking “The Gift” has to do with prettily packaged and expertly wrapped gifts placed under a beautifully lighted evergreen tree with a glowing hearth exuding warmth and good cheer. Or, it may seem to some to be about the “bottom line” and whether their business year is profitable or a lost cause. Wouldn’t it seem at best illogical if so much of what we do in observance of “The Birthday of The King” was “much ado about nothing,” and the reason for Christmas in the first place was lost or overlooked entirely?
THE GIFT, THOUGH . . . That is what Christmas is about.
John could never have stated it more simply and clearly than when he quoted Jesus’ famous conversation later with a Jewish ruler named Nicodemus. The chances are that almost every child who ever attended any “church school” anywhere in the world has heard and memorized a quotation from that conversation: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16).
THE GIFT. Please don’t lose sight of THE GIFT. Even if you “tear up” over the nostalgia that prompts such an emotional response, or shy away at first at the idea of a little baby being born and wrapped in rags. Lying there as He did, in the domestic animal’s food trough (the manger), possibly padded by some straw. This isn’t just about that touching sight. If you read on and get the full story, you’ll discover that little baby boy growing up to be Jesus, the Carpenter from Nazareth, the Saviour of the Word.
I would be untrue to myself and what I believe if I failed to make a suggestion here: If you’ve not done so yet, what better time for an exchange of ‘gifts’ at this season? Wouldn’t it be wonderfully appropriate if, even as you read and think about “The Gift,” that you were to accept that “Gift” as your own. And, in exchange, you gave your life over to Him? He’d like nothing better than that!
One of my favorite poems about this season is by Christina Rosetti. She stands in reverential awe as she considers the GIFT of God’s Son. She then wonders, logically, about her own response to such Divine Extravagance:
“What shall I give him
Poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd
I’d give Him a lamb.
If I were a wise man
I’d do my part.
What shall I give Him?
I’ll give Him my heart!
I Believe she got it right. So did Isaac Watts when, in his great hymn, he wrote: “Love so amazing, so divine, demands (deserves, and shall have *) my life, my soul, my all.”
Incidentally, while we’re on the subject of the “GIFT,” It is never something you earn, or deserve. It doesn’t have ‘strings’ attached. It has nothing to do with how good or bad we are. . . or THINK we are. In this case, God offers His Son,The Gift, “by grace, through faith. And it has nothing to do with our works (accomplishments), lest anyone should boast.”**
Although we’ve not met, and perhaps never shall, I’d like for you to know I pray seriously that your visiting this site will not be an empty “intellectual exercise” or an equally meaningless “internet excursion.” If what I say makes sense, I’d love to hear from you. If it doesn’t make sense, shame on me!
God’s servant, your friend, brother, and fellow student, ~donkimrey
><> ><> ><> ><>
YOU MAY WANT TO TAKE TIME to view the blog, JLWilliams@.net. From my little hometown in the Piedmont section of North Carolina, he’s launched an international ministry reaching others across continents and over several decades. His work is deserving of your prayers, and his study of Scripture is worthy of your attention.
*The words contained in the parenthesis are mine. I’m confident Mr. Watts would have agreed. ~dk
** This reference is taken from the Apostle Paul’s letter to the young Church at Ephesus (vv. 2:8 & 9).