A Gift for Whom?
Please note the pronouns here…
“And the angel said to them, ‘Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger’” (Luke 2:10-12, ESV emphasis added).
Answering the question of why Jesus came and died and rose again is a question with a lot of right answers to it. He came to defeat Satan, he came for God’s glory, he came in obedience to his heavenly Father, he came to fulfill prophecy, and on and on we could go. But those are not the reasons the angels highlighted to the shepherds, are they? Angels are messengers of God. They told the shepherds exactly what God wanted them to say. There is a baby whose identity is Savior, Christ, and Lord. He is lying in a manger. But what you need to realize is that he has been born unto you, for you, and for all the people.
This echoes the emphasis of a famous prophecy of Isaiah: “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6). To us a child. To us a son.
Here is where so many people miss out on the true gift of Christmas because they think salvation is transactional. I do something, and by me doing something, I get God to do something for me. I give you something, you give me something.
This week my 7-year-old daughter wrote me this note on a sticky note:
I love you Daddy. I wish we could do something fun today, but not playing outside, like drinking hot chocolate. If you do, thank you. I love you Dad. Note arrow and picture of hot chocolate.
I said to Jennifer, “Boy, they start young with the manipulation thing.” But what’s going on there? She wants hot chocolate. She gives me what I want, I love you Dad, so she can get what she wants, hot chocolate.
This is human nature and is a great stumbling block to actually receiving the gift of God’s salvation through Jesus. If you ask the average person, when you die are you going to heaven? If they are mildly religious, they will say, I think so. Why? The answer to this question determines whether they believe the true gospel or not.
If the answer is, because I have _____________. I live a moral life. I give to the poor. I’m better than most people. What lies behind that? Hot chocolate. I give my heavenly Father what he wants. I do something for him, and then I expect him to give me what I want: eternal life.
How would you answer the question, why should God allow you into heaven?
Yet from the very beginning of Jesus’ ministry, even the angels want us to realize Jesus is a non-transactional, mono-directional, one-way gift of love from God to us. From God to you. Not because of who you are, your standing in society, your morality, your family, your religiosity. It can’t be, because they said this to the bottom-of-the-barrel shepherds, who, if salvation is transactional with God, they had no hope. What do sinners like shepherds need? They need a salvation not based on who they are or what they’ve done. The Apostle Paul explains salvation as a gift this way, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast” (Ephesians 2:8–9).
You may have no hope to be saved if salvation is based on a spiritual transaction with God, but what if it’s a free gift from God? A one-way act of sovereign love and sovereign grace. What if you were one of those shepherds and you ran to see this child in Bethlehem in the manger and on his big toe was tied a note:
Would your heart be open to receive the gift of Jesus? Christ. Savior. Lord. The words of the angels echo through the ages to us today emphasizing that Jesus is a gift for all who place their trust in who he was: Christ and Lord, and what he did dying on the cross—Savior.
Are you good at receiving gifts? Most of us are. Have you received by faith this gift from God to you?
“Unto you is born this day in the city of David, a Savior, who is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:11).
Scripture quotations are taken from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Permanent Text Edition® (2016). Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.
© 2020 by Steve DeWitt. You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that: (1) you credit the author, (2) any modifications are clearly marked, (3) you do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, (4) you include Bethel’s website address (www.bethelweb.org) on the copied resource.
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