(This is a devotional I shared at our church’s annual Ladies Christmas Brunch.)
I used to go all out in gift wrapping. I took my time with each and every gift – making my own fancy bows, picking out just the right paper, and making sure the wrapping paper had nice crisp edges. But it got tiresome and nobody in my family really noticed my efforts. They just ripped the paper open.
Have you ever been challenged with a gift that doesn’t wrap so easily? You know, the gifts that don’t come with a box, and they don’t fit into any box. I have three boys, and we had plenty of those gifts in my house: fish tanks, fire trucks, baseball bats and baseball gloves, skate boards and basketballs, light sabers and so on. Some gifts will never fit into a box.
My boys used to play the guessing game on what was wrapped for them under the tree. They would picking up each gift and shake it. As their mom I just wanted to keep the presents I bought for them a surprise until Christmas Day. I didn’t want them guessing. So I had to disguise the more elaborate gifts to keep it a mystery until they opened it.
What is interesting is that when my sons got old enough to buy their own gifts and wrap them … they really got creative. I guess they knew what big snoops they were themselves. And just like extreme sports, for them it was “extreme gift wrapping.” They would use so much wrapping paper. They would pad their gifts with socks, towels or toilet paper rolls – anything to throw you off. And they would create shapes. One of my sons created a dinosaur shape around his gift, even though the gift was not a dinosaur. I don’t even remember what the gift actually was, but I remember the dinosaur!
One Christmas our son, Sam, bought three gifts for his Dad, and he shaped a letter around each of the three presents to spell out the word “DAD.” It was so funny. I don’t remember what those gifts were either, but I remember how they were wrapped.
These extremely-wrapped gifts were a lot of fun to unwrap, because there were so many layers to get through just to get to the gift. But things are much simpler now, and I am grateful for e-cards and gift cards and, and I love gift bags for wrapping. So much easier!
Well, just as our family did extreme gift wrapping for each other, God also gave us a gift that was masterfully and cleverly and extremely well-wrapped. And just as we don’t always recognize a gift when it is wrapped, the world did not recognize God’s gift either. (John 1:10-11) God gave his Son, Jesus, as his Christmas gift to us. And when Jesus came, he came wrapped in some very special and unique ways. Let me share with you four ways that God’s gift came wrapped for us.
First of all, God’s gift came wrapped in human baby flesh. In order for Jesus to be one of us, he first needed to be born. God became man. He took on flesh. He was still fully God, and now he became fully man as well. He began his life here on earth as a baby. The Eternal King of all Ages, he who has no beginning or end, now had a birthday like the rest of us. The Almighty God who provided so richly for the needs of his people in the past now had needs of his own, just like any other baby. In the past he provided daily manna for his people. Now he depended on his mother to feed him daily and provide for all his needs. Instead of that majestic, powerful voice like thunder that breaks the cedars of Lebanon (Psalm 29), Jesus’ voice was now little baby cries. God’s gift came wrapped in human baby flesh.
Secondly, God’s gift came wrapped in swaddling clothes. Now that he was a baby, the Mighty God was clothed in rags. Like all newborn babies he was wrapped and swaddled to help him transition to living outside the womb. Jesus is the King of Kings, but now instead of being robed in splendor and majesty, he was wrapped in simple pieces of cloth. The outstretched arms that made the heavens and the earth were now tiny arms tightly wrapped and tucked away. The Mighty God who acted as protector and shield for his people was now shielded from the outside world as he lay wrapped in swaddling clothes.
Thirdly, God’s gift came wrapped in humility. God humbled himself by taking on a body like ours. No longer a spiritual being only, he was now in a body that imposed limitations on him. He felt tiredness, cold, hunger and pain like the rest of us. He left the eternal world to reside in our temporary world. He left his royal throne and was laid in a manger. The Creator of the world – the Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Prince of Peace, and Everlasting Father whose Kingdom knows no end – was born in poverty. Where he was once worshipped and adored, where he once sat on the highest throne above all thrones, where he was once robed in splendor and majesty, he was now wrapped in baby flesh, wrapped in swaddling clothes, and lying in a feeding trough. God’s gift came wrapped in humility.
And then fourthly, God’s gift came wrapped in love. I don’t know if you know, I mean really, really know how much you are loved by God. God gave us his Son wrapped up in love for you and me. God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son. (John 3:16) God initiated this love relationship with us so that we could have a love relationship with him. And this relationship can only be had through his Son. God knew we would never be able to come to him on our own. So he wrapped up his Son in love as a gift to save us from our sins.
The angel told Joseph to call this gift from God “Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.’ (Matthew 1:21) Jesus lived up to his name. Jesus was not born to give us a holiday. He was born to save us from our sins. He was born to become our salvation when he gave his life up at the cross. Jesus was born, knowing that his body would be torn, so that you and I could be born – so that we could be mended and rescued from our present darkness of sin.
When God gave his gift to the world, the world did not recognize it. They did not receive it. They rejected it. Imagine giving a gift to someone you love, and then they reject your gift. How would you feel?
I was in the store the other day and I saw a wooden plaque with a Christmas tree on it. And on the Christmas tree were these five words: “Peace, Love, Joy, Believe and Christmas.” All five of those words are important, but the one we need the most to make the other words come together in our lives is that simple word “Believe.” Believe in the gift of God’s Son. Recognize and receive him. Believe with your heart and confess with your mouth that Jesus is the Son of God.
I love it when I get a gift that I didn’t expect and that I didn’t know I needed until I got it. And then after getting it, I don’t know how I ever got along without it. It is especially sweet when the gift comes from someone who loves me and who has studied me enough to know me and my needs.
God is that someone in my life. Jesus is that gift I needed all along, and I didn’t realize how much I needed him. And now I know I could never get along in life without him. He is God’s Christmas gift for me and for you.
God’s Christmas gift to us came wrapped in baby flesh, wrapped in swaddling clothes, wrapped in humility and wrapped in love. Jesus is the one Christmas gift that continues to remain unwrapped year after year by so many.
If you have already received Jesus, I encourage you to worship Him all the more and give him the honor he deserves this Christmas. And if you haven’t, let me just encourage you that it is time to open up all your Christmas gifts this year. Go and unwrap God’s Christmas gift for you. Go and unwrap Jesus.
© Copyright 2015 by Rosi Fowler