Thanks be to God for His Gift (Jesus Christ), precious beyond words, indescribable, inexpressible!…For if the many died by the trespass of the one man (Adam), how much more did God’s grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many! (2 Cor 9:15; Rom 5:15)
I re-used Billy Joel’s true story again to explain Jesus’ incarnation (His enflesh-ment). Maybe you will like it and use it with others. Most of you know that Billy Joel 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 for work. 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 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….Beyond all question, the mystery…is great: Jesus appeared in the flesh, was vindicated by the Spirit, was seen by angels, was preached among the nations, was believed on in the world, was taken up in glory.”1
For Christmas and during the year we try to buy friends and family members 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
1. God’s Gift of Christ Reflects the Father’s Personality. The Son 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 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!
2. 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
3. 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 in 2020. 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. 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 so that we can praise God, rejoice in Him, worship Him, and give Him thanks even in the hardest and darkest times.
Dr. Jack Miller, my late 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 you 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.
To be continued. You can read Part 2 here.
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.