Thanks be to God for His Gift (Jesus Christ), precious beyond words, indescribable, inexpressible!…For the sin of the one man, Adam, brought death to many. But even greater and overflowing is God’s wonderful grace and His gift of forgiveness to many through this other man, Jesus Christ. (2 Cor 9:15; Rom 5:15)
I re-told Billy Joel’s true story again to explain Jesus’ incarnation (His enflesh-ment). Maybe you will like it and use it with others. Billy is an American singer-songwriter and pianist. On his daughter Alexa’s 12th birthday she was in New York City, and Billy was in Los Angeles. He phoned her, apologizing for his absence, but Billy told her to expect a large package delivered later that day. Alexa answered the doorbell to find a seven-foot-tall, brightly wrapped box. She tore it open and out stepped her dad, just off the plane from the West Coast. Can you imagine her surprise?
God’s greatest gift to us, Jesus His Son, came in the flesh too! Christ came down from Heaven to be with us forever! “When the set time had fully come, God sent His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship….Without question, this is the great mystery of our faith: Christ was revealed in a human body and vindicated by the Spirit. He was seen by angels and announced to the nations. He was believed in throughout the world and taken to Heaven in glory.”1
At Christmas and during the year we try to buy people the “perfect gift.” It needs to meet three criteria: #1 the gift should reflect the giver’s personality; #2 the gift should show that we know the receiver (their needs and desires); #3 the gift should be of a kind and quality that keeps its value. Clearly only Christ is the perfect gift, infinitely costly to God, but free to all who receive and rest on Him as He is offered in the gospel. Jesus has come that we may have life, and that we may have it more abundantly, to the fullest, till it overflows.2
God’s Gift of Christ Reflects the Father’s Personality. Jesus is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of His being….The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.3 Jesus said, “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father.”4 Christ demonstrated God’s being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness, and truth on every page of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. In Jesus’ words and deeds, He perfectly shows God’s love, mercy, compassion, and generosity. The Son of God added on humanity without subtracting any of His deity. Whatever He learned from His Father He has made known to us.5 We are so blessed!
God’s Gift of Christ Meets Our Deepest Needs and Desires. He came to usher in God’s new covenant, putting His law in our minds and writing it on our hearts, being our God and adopting us as His people. Jesus makes His followers know the only true God which is the way to eternal life. And He forgives our wickedness and sins.6 Christ is the Arbiter and Mediator between us and God, laying His hand on each of us.7 Jesus became our Substitute, bearing our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness. By Christ’s wounds we have been healed and set free.8
If our greatest need was information, God would have sent us an educator. If our greatest need was technology, He would have sent a scientist. If our greatest need was money, God would have sent a businessman. If our greatest need was pleasure, God would have sent us an entertainer. But our greatest need was reconciliation to God, so the Father sent His Son to be the Savior of the world.9
God’s Gift of Christ Holds its Value for All Eternity. Jesus is the Gift that keeps on giving. “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.”10 The Bible teaches that eternal life is a blessing and quality of life that begins now. We don’t have to wait til we get to Heaven.11 Everlasting life means having a close, deep, and personal relationship with God our Father that makes us live to please Him and not ourselves.12 Our life in fellowship with God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is meant to be contagious, infecting others in a good way, to keep them from spiritual death.13 Christians in the Book of Acts turned the Roman world upside down, meaning right-side up, within thirty years of Jesus’ ascension.14 Are we seeking to do the same? God did it in the 1st century and He can do it again now. Let’s pray and work with that goal in mind.
I am always reminding myself and others to re-focus on Christ and His miraculous coming down for us at Christmas, His sinless life, His crucifixion and atoning death, His bodily resurrection and eternal alive-ness, His presence with us, His continuing help and prayers for us, and His certain return for us.
What a day that will be, when my Jesus I shall see
And I look upon His face, the one who saved me by His grace
When He takes me by the hand, and leads me through the Promised Land
What a day, glorious day that will be! (by Jim Hill, 1955)
All the good things we enjoy in this life come to us through Christ and His ongoing work for us. Let us help each other keep the spotlight on Jesus to praise God, rejoice in Him, worship Him, and give Him thanks even in the hardest and darkest times.
Dr. Jack Miller (1928-1996), my teacher, urged us to preach Jesus’ gospel to ourselves every day. Often he said, “Cheer up. You’re a lot worse off than you think you are….But in Christ, you are far more loved than you could ever imagine.” And God’s love for us in Christ endures forever and ever and ever. Psalm 136 says it 26 times! If we preach Jesus’ gospel to ourselves everyday and taste and see that the Lord is good ourselves, then evangelism becomes easy and a way of life for us.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, thank you for loving us, coming down to save us, and for living in obedience to God as we should have done. Thank you for the cross You carried, Your blood shed for us, for bearing the weight of our sin on Your shoulders. Thank you for sacrificing Your life so we could live with You forever. Thank You for Your victorious resurrection that brings us into Your kingdom, makes us new people from inside out, and gives us eternal life. Make our paths straight and lead us in the paths of righteousness for Your name’s sake. Amen.
To be continued. You can read Part 2 here.
You may also like: God at Eye Level: More on Jesus’ Incarnation
Notes (various translations): 1 Gal 4:4-5; 1 Tim 3:16. 2 John 10:10. 3 Heb 1:3; Col 1:15. 4 John 14:9. 5 John 15:15. 6 Jer 31:33-34; John 17:3. 7 Job 9:33. 8 1 Peter 2:24. 9 1 John 4:14. 10 John 3:16. 11 John 4:14,36; 5:24; 6:27,40,47,54,68; 10:28; 12:25,50. 12 2 Cor 5:9; Rom 12:1-2; Gal 1:10; 6:8; Eph 5:10; Phil 4:18; 1 Thess 2:4; 4:9 Heb 11:6; 1 John 2:17. 13 See Contagious Christianity: A Study of 1 Thessalonians by Chuck Swindol. 14 Acts 17:6.