Christmas 1968 is burned into my memory. I made one of the worst Christmas gift mistakes ever. Pat and I had been married a little over 7 months, were getting to know each other, but were also struggling to make ends meet. So, we decided not to buy each other Christmas gifts. The only thing was, Pat gave me a little gift, inexpensive, but from her heart, and I had nothing to give her! I mean, I had nothing…nada…not one thing to give!
Fortunately for me, or unfortunately, as the case proved to be, I found a department store open, rushed in, shopped in a panic, and purchased a fantastic gift—a food blender. In hindsight, receiving a blender for Christmas is probably the closest thing there is, to receiving nothing. I think of it as my great blender blunder.
Sometimes, when you have a meager gift, a person will say, “Well, it’s the thought that counts.” But in my case, even the thought didn’t count! Nevertheless, Pat was gracious, and I learned a good lesson.
So, why do we practice giving gifts at Christmas?
Our gift giving is patterned after the actions of the Wise Men who brought presents to the baby Jesus. Matthew records that “Magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem saying, ‘Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw His star in the east and have come to worship Him’” (Matthew 2:1, 2).
Five hundred years before Christ, after the fall of Jerusalem, the prophet Daniel was taken captive to Babylon. God gave him the ability to interpret King Nebuchadnezzar’s dreams (Dan. 2:30), and he was promoted to “chief of the magicians” (Dan. 4:9). Since Daniel had authority over all the Wise Men of the Babylonian Empire, and later, the Persian Empire, he must have clearly taught them what God revealed to him.
One thing God revealed to Daniel was the time frame of the first coming of Jesus, the Messiah (Dan. 9:20-27). By calculating the years from the command of King Cyrus to rebuild Jerusalem, the approximate time of the coming of the Messiah could be determined. After Jesus was born in Bethlehem, it was these Wise Men, perhaps descendants of Daniel, who came to Jerusalem seeking to locate and worship the newborn King of the Jews.
What kind of gift would you offer a king? Matthew records, “After coming into the house they saw the Child with Mary His mother; and they fell to the ground and worshiped Him. Then, opening their treasures, they presented to Him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh” (Matthew 2:11). Gold is always valuable and expensive as well as the exotic spices of frankincense and myrrh. The Wise Men brought their best, as gifts to the baby Jesus, and since then people have given gifts in celebration of His birth.
We may give gifts at Christmas because the Wise Men did, but also because at Christmas, God gave us Jesus, His perfect gift. For Him, Christmas is all about giving—giving to humanity the perfect, eternal gift, Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world!
He Was the Perfect Gift
When Jesus came into the world, a newborn baby in the village of Bethlehem, God made the perfect gift available for all people for all time. “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all” (1 Timothy 1:15).
He Came at the Perfect Time
The timing of Christ’s birth was perfect, according to Galatians 4:4, 5, “But when the fulness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.” All the components necessary for God’s perfect gift culminated when His Son died for our sins and was raised in victory three days later. Through death Jesus defeated death and offers life, “For the wages of sin is death; but the free gift of God is eternal life in Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:23). Everlasting life is a gift of God, the only eternal gift.
He Paid the Perfect Price
Gifts are expensive. They cost a price. So, this glorious salvation by grace, is God’s most luxuriant gift, according to Ephesians 2:8, 9, “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.”
He Offers the Perfect Opportunity
Christmas is the perfect opportunity to accept God’s gift! Why not receive the greatest gift ever given? Trust Jesus to save you, then share Him with others.
In our human experience, there is no such thing as a perfect gift. I can tell you, it’s sure not a blender! That new watch will one day stop. The new outfit will eventually fade. The jewelry will corrode. The new smart phone will soon become dumb. The newest gadget will break or end up in a thrift store.
But, the gift of God—the Perfect Gift—is forever! Though “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23), you can be “justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus” (verse 24). His eternal salvation is His gift. Why not receive God’s perfect gift today?