One year on Boxing Day 1.5 million new items went up for sale on eBay. Why? A good number of us wasted our money on presents that our friends and family didn’t really want! The very first Christmas something similar happened – a gift was given, and was, by most, rejected.
A Great Gift Given!
The Bible says that ‘God so loved the world that He gave His only Son’. God gave humanity a gift, and not just any gift, but nothing less than His only Son, Jesus! Jesus was no ordinary person. The fact that you are reading a leaflet about Him 2,000 years on is testimony to that. So, as it’s Christmas, let’s ask who was He? Or, more to the point, who is He? And why is He so important? The answer to these questions can be found in one of the names He was given. Before His birth an angel said His name would be ‘Immanuel’ which means, ‘God with us’.
God didn’t just send a messenger into our world to let us know what He expected of us. He actually came Himself. Jesus, according to the Bible, was, and is, God. Can you imagine meeting Him? When we are in the presence of someone truly great, we tremble with awe and wonder at them. We might say to ourselves ‘that’s really him, in the flesh.’ Imagine what it must have been like to have met Jesus. We could have said, ‘That’s really Him, it’s God, in the flesh!’
A Rough and Real Rejection . . .
Shockingly, the Bible records that ‘He came to his own, and His own people did not receive Him.’ It’s hard to comprehend that the Creator of the universe should become a man and walk among us, sharing in life’s hardships – but it’s far harder to comprehend that He should be rejected. Sure, shepherds came to visit Him, and yes, astrologers from the east travelled to mark His arrival and bring Him gifts but, perhaps lesser known, as a young child the authorities of His day tried to have Him killed. They feared that He was a threat to the throne. A decree was even sent out to have all the young children in the suspected area of His birth murdered just to be sure! As a man, the Bible says He was ‘despised and rejected by men…’ until eventually at the young age of thirty-three He was crucified by the Roman authorities at the will of His very own people. Though He was without fault, His life was rough and ended in the ultimate rejection.
A Sad and Sorry Story?
At this point in our story you could be forgiven for wondering why Christians celebrate Christmas at all. Many people find the life story of Jesus nothing short of sad. So why do Christians celebrate Christmas? And in what way was Jesus ever intended to be a gift? The answer lies, again, in His name. The same angel that brought the news of Immanuel also said, ‘you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.’ The Bible is very clear in saying that we are all sinners – that is, we are all naturally rebellious against our Creator. Sin, it goes on to say, has utterly separated us from God. Ultimately our sin leads to death and results in punishment. And this is why Christians celebrate Christmas! Not because they are disturbingly morbid, but because God has done something about their sin! Jesus was born to save sinners. On that cross, outside Jerusalem’s city walls, He was punished for the sin of the world. He actually took on Himself the wrath of God against sinful humanity.
The best gifts usually come at a cost to the giver. We may never know how much it cost the Father to send the Son, but the truth remains that He did send Him. Jesus’ resurrection proclaims its reality. Now all that is left for you to do is receive Jesus Christ for yourself.
‘For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.’
Author: Sam Oldridge