Published December 7, 2006
Luke 1:26-35; 2:4-7
Related Sunday School Lesson, Bible Studies for Life, Dec. 24
Imagine a Christmas tree in your home with every gift that you need to provide meaning and purpose in life. Each one of these gifts has a tag with your name and written on the tag is: Do Not Open until Christmas.
Most people would assume that means Dec. 25, the date we celebrate the birth of Christ. Though no one knows the actual date of Christ’s birth, the believer knows when Christ was born into their life.
This December we have studied the life-changing gifts of God. For the believer God gives faith that works, hope that lives, and love that lasts. There is a qualifier for these gifts. They can only be opened by the believer. In other words a person must first receive the gift of Jesus before they can open the gifts of faith, hope, and love.
This Christmas Eve we take a close look at Jesus, God’s greatest gift.
Jesus is His name - Luke 1:26-31
Luke tells us that an angel appears to a virgin and announces the birth of God’s son. The virgin, a young woman who has had no sexual relations, is Mary. These details point to the sovereignty of God. This child is not born of the action and consequence of man, but of the choice of God. The angel, Gabriel, tells Mary to name the child Jesus.
For the last three years I have traveled to Africa to provide leadership training for pastors in Ethiopia. All of my Ethiopian friends have names with meaning. Tesfaye means “my hope.” Fikre means “love.” Tamaru means “miracle.” Americans tend to name children because we like the sound of the name. Ethiopians enjoy naming their children with meaning. God named his son Jesus which means “savior” or “deliverer.”
The name reveals the magnitude of God’s gift. Jesus will be savior and deliverer. Matthew 1:21 spells it out clearly, “He will save His people from their sins.” He will deliver us from the sting of death and the power of the grave. Jesus is His name!
Jesus is God’s Son - Luke 1:32-35
Gabriel gives us more than a name, he outlines five descriptors: great, royal, eternal, infinite, and divine. John the Baptist recognized his greatness when he said, He must increase and I must decrease” (John 3:30). Zechariah prophesized His royalty, ‘See, your king comes to you, gentle and riding on a donkey” (Matt 21:5). The entire prologue to the Gospel of John speaks of his eternal, infinite, and divine nature. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” (John 1:1).
Gabriel explains the virgin birth. Jesus is conceived by the Holy Spirit and is the Son of God. His divinity assures the believer that Jesus’ reign will never end. This unique birth accentuates the power of God.
Gabriel guides Mary through the process of discovering and accepting God’s will for her life. The birth of Jesus through Mary should also encourage the believer. Although Mary was very young she was used by God. Despite Mary’s humble circumstances, God used her in a tremendous manner. Though she had to work through the circumstances of her pregnancy with her engaged husband, God guided both of them to be a part of His magnificent plan.
Jesus is God’s Gift - Luke 2:4-7
Perhaps the most incredible aspect of the Christmas story is the part about a gift. For most of our nation Christmas is synonymous with giving and receiving gifts.
The child in us dreams of what we would like to receive. The adult in us wonders how we are going to pay for all the gifts we are expected to buy. The parent in us looks at the story and notices a mother, Mary, with her husband, Joseph, making a tedious trip during the last difficult days of a pregnancy. The birth of Jesus was itself a time of giving.
God gave Mary and Joseph safe travel and a place to stay in Bethlehem. God gave Mary a safe delivery and a healthy child. God brought royalty from other countries to provide gifts. Perhaps these gifts would later be used to finance a trip to Egypt as God gave this new family safe passage out of harms way. God is in the gift-giving business.
Have you ever received a gift in a gift? Perhaps someone gave you a wallet with a gift card inside the wallet or a travel bag with a round-trip ticket inside. Mary received a gift within a gift. God gave Mary her son Jesus and in Jesus God gave us a Savior. Because of Jesus, the believer has forgiveness of sins and the gift of eternal life.
This Christmas, as you celebrate the birth of Jesus, thank God for the life-changing gifts he gives the believer: a faith that works, a hope that is alive, and a love that last forever. The best way to thank God is to introduce your friends and your family to the one who can give those gifts to them.
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