We give each other gifts each Christmas, but where did that tradition start and what was the first Christmas gift? Well, the first gift was not wrapped in shiny paper and put under a tree. It wasn’t bought at a department store or from an online site. It wasn’t charged on a credit card or bought with cash. It wasn’t the gifts that the wise men gave some 2000 years ago, but they gave their gifts to the first Christmas gift. It started in a manger and ended on a cross and then an empty tomb:
“ For God so loved the world, that he GAVE his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life”. John 3:16
The first and greatest gift of all was God giving his Son to die in our place so that our sins could be forgiven.
“For the wages of sin is death; but the GIFT of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord”. Romans 6:23
“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the GIFT of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast”. Ephesians 2:8.9
People often have a lopsided view of what God is like – either they picture God as an angry and cruel judge who is just waiting for us to slip up so that he can nail us, or
He is a big sappy permissive old man upstairs who doesn’t care about what we do and just wants to share the love all around.
According to what the bible tells us about God neither of these concepts is true. They are a distortion of the true character of God – a twist on the true attributes of God, Yes, he is holy and just and hates sin. Yes, he is the personification and perfection of love. He is not, however, cruel God or wishy-washy.
God is holy and just and can not let sin go unpunished. God is loving and does not want to see us suffer. Are these attributes in conflict? How could God make sure our sin is dealt with and the penalty paid while, at the same time, be loving, merciful and forgive us?
The cross is the solution to what seems to us as a dilemma. In the cross we see the marriage of God’s justice and his love. We see the satisfaction of his holiness and his mercy. The cross is the key and the climax to human history. In our day it is difficult for many to understand the just side of God’s character. His hatred of sin is foreign to our thinking. He hates sin to a large part because of what it does to us. Think about how sin has affected society since we, as a society, have moved away from God.
Imagine a parent thinking that in order to love their child it means to always allow them to do as they wish – never giving any type of consequence and shielding them from the natural consequences. Is that love? What happens to that child when they get out into the real world and find out the whole world does not share their opinion that they should do whatever they want without consequence. It is a cruel permissiveness that allows a child to grow up unprepared like that.
Roughly two thousand or so years ago God took upon human nature. God became a man. He was born in Bethlehem – lived a perfect life- fulfilled the whole law –and then gave his life as a sacrifice, a payment for my sins and for yours – for the sins of the whole world. Paying for the sins of the whole world enables him to offer the precious gift of eternal life, forgiveness of sin, and a relationship with God. Jesus paid it all – you and I can’t pay by our good works –only a perfect person could pay the price – only God in the flesh could do it – and he did.
So the greatest gift was bought at the greatest price and is offered to us as a free gift to receive – now the choice is up to you. Do you believe the gospel (good news) and call out to him and receive the gift? Or do you say I don’t need God – I’m good enough etc. and reject him?
Rom 3:10 As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:
Rom 3:23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;
Rom 5:12 Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:
Rom 6:23 For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Rom 10:9 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.
Act 2:21 And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.
Jhn 14:6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.
Act 4:12 Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.
Tts 3:5 Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost
Eph 2:8,9 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: [it is] the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.
Jhn 3:3 Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.