Where Did Christmas Gift-Giving Come from?
Are you familiar with the true meaning of Christmas?
How do the historical events around the year 1 BC that are celebrated at Christmas apply to us?
Christmas celebrates when God the Son (Jesus Christ) left heaven to stay on the earth until his purpose here was fulfilled and his rescue mission accomplished. What was his rescue mission?
“She [Mary] will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.’ All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: ‘Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel’ (which means, God with us).”
Matthew 1:21-23 ESV c.f. Luke 19:10; 1 John 3:8; Mark 10:45; Colossians 1:13-14
Jesus came so that we could have a relationship with God, so that we could be saved from our sins (our spiritual condition of separation from God--Romans 3:23). Jesus was thus God’s gift for mankind, and we celebrate the delivery of that gift at Christmas.
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.”
John 3:16-18 ESV
How does Jesus save us from our sins?
“He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. 23 When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. 24 He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. 25 For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.”
1 Peter 2:22-25 ESV
That passage alludes to a prophecy about Jesus written 700 years before Jesus walked the earth:
"Who has believed what he has heard from us? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?
2 For he grew up before him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground; he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him.
3 He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
4 Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted.
5 But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed.
6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.
7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth.
8 By oppression and judgment he was taken away; and as for his generation, who considered that he was cut off out of the land of the living, stricken for the transgression of my people?
9 And they made his grave with the wicked and with a rich man in his death, although he had done no violence, and there was no deceit in his mouth.
10 Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him; he has put him to grief; when his soul makes an offering for guilt, he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days; the will of the Lord shall prosper in his hand.
11 Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied; by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant, make many to be accounted righteous, and he shall bear their iniquities.
12 Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong, because he poured out his soul to death and was numbered with the transgressors; yet he bore the sin of many, and makes intercession for the transgressors."
Isaiah 53 ESV
We all deserve spiritual separation from God forever because of our disloyalty and rebellion against God. Jesus was perfectly loyal to God and never disobeyed His laws. The wages (consequences) of sin is death (Romans 6:23). Jesus never sinned against God and loved God perfectly for all eternity past. Thus Jesus didn't deserve to die. However, he chose to die in our place, so that we could be re-connected to God, just as Jesus was always connected to God--Romans 5:8-11; John 17:1-5. Through a brutal death on a Roman cross, at one point Jesus was disconnected from God His Father for the first time in eternity--Matthew 27:46. Such emotional agony likely exceeded the physical torment of his body being torn to pieces by whips and nails (which was to provide also for the healing of our sickness and disease--Matthew 8:14-17).
At Christmas, we receive gifts from friends and/or family by taking those gifts into our possession. How then do we receive God’s gift of salvation from our sins? How do we receive Jesus, who came to save us from our sins?
"But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God."
John 1:12-13 ESV.
According to these verses, we are “born again” as child or member of God’s honored family by believing in Jesus’ name.
One way to express that belief (trust in God) is by talking to God (prayer), telling Him that you come to receive His free gift--the gift of His Son, Jesus.
The following is just a suggested prayer:
I believe that You exist and that You reward those who earnestly seek You. I also believe that my sin has separated me from You. I realize that I fall short of Your glorious standard of love and perfection. I’m unworthy to even be in the presence of such a pure and holy God. I deserve to be separated from You forever because of my sin--my rebellion against your laws and disloyalty to You. I have loved so many things above You, and You deserve better.
Please forgive me for all my sins and cleanse me from all unrighteousness (everything that doesn’t please You). I agree with You that Jesus Christ is the only way I can have a relationship with You. Thank you for sending the gift of Jesus, who died on the cross for my sins and was raised from the dead. Right now I confess with my mouth Jesus is Lord and believe in my heart that You raised him from the dead. I commit to follow Jesus with everything that I am and to do what he says. Thank you God for forgiving all my sins! Thank You for seeing me as righteous, as if I never sinned. Please fill me with Your love and make me into the kind of person you want me to be. Jesus, I receive you into my life. Come live inside me so that I can always please God like you did. Thank you, my Lord and my God.
I pray this in Jesus' name.
If you prayed this kind of prayer to receive Jesus into your life, and started a new relationship with God, then I am thrilled that you just received the most amazing Christmas gift ever given--the gift of God.
Please ask me any questions you may have as you start to connect with God in your new relationship as an honored member of His family.