This morning we celebrate the greatest gift that humanity has ever received—God’s one and only Son, Jesus Christ; given in love. I want us to spend a couple of minutes reflecting on the giver and the gift, and the recipients and the response.
The Giver and the Gift
For all eternity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit enjoyed the blissful communion within the God-head. Then, at the appointed time, the Father gives the Son. He sent his Son to a hostile world.
It is hard for a parent to watch their child go overseas to study or work. At Christmas you may be enjoying being reunited, or missing those who are still away. But as they depart you can comfort yourself that they are happy where they are going. Not so this Father. He sends his Son into a world where he will experience poverty and toil; where he shall be despised and rejected; where his back will be lacerated with a whip and his body pinned to the cross—where he cries, ‘my God, my God why have you forsaken me?’
The great Baptist preacher, Charles Spurgeon, reflects upon the Father’s gift of the Son and declares, ‘he seemed to love us better than his only Son, and not did spare him that he might spare us.’
The recipient and the response
One of the most incredible things about this gift is the nature of the recipient—God gives his Son to the world. He gives his Son to a world that has rebelled against his loving rule; a world that deserves to be punished for its evil. Yet his Son comes and lives the perfect life we were incapable of living and dies the death we deserve. God gives us Jesus’ righteousness and Jesus took our unrighteousness upon himself.
As Christmas approached, boys and girls were asked, ‘have you been good this year?’ The assumption being that good gifts depend on good behaviour. But God has reserved his best gift for those who admit they have never been good any year.
So how should you respond to God’s gift of his Son? This gift is for those who believe. You disqualify yourself for this gift if you seek to earn it. You insult the giver if you try to pay him back. Instead you come empty-handed and grateful. Indeed, the desire to accept this gift is a gift in itself (Ephesians 2:8). Receiving that love will transform you. This is a gift that keeps on giving. Jack Miller writes, ‘God’s love for you is far greater than you imagine’ and ‘when you understand God’s love for you, then you have the power to love the world.’