For all the presents you opened this Christmas there are only a few that are truly life-changing, truly revolutionary. The smartphone is one of those revolutionary products. Now, I’m partial to Apple, even if they do slow their older phones down.
When you look at an iPhone or any smartphone for that matter, you are looking at a revolutionary product. Essentially it’s a powerful computer, GPS, camera, music player, and more right in your pocket. Having those things readily available has changed the way we live, interact with the world, and each other. Some for the better and some for the worse.
Take the camera for instance. Gone are the days where you have to remember to bring your camera or camcorder along to capture your families memories. If you have your phone, you have your camera.
Or how about directions. You no longer have to remember and rely on paper maps or printed directions from Google or Mapquest. Now, you open an app on your phone, type in where you want to go, and you are on your way. Most of the time you don’t have to worry about traffic because a lot of the mapping apps will route you around it.
So some of the presents under your tree are life-changing. But what these presents, these gadgets are able to change about your life is usually limited. They can’t and don’t change your life completely, and that’s because they can’t change you from the inside out. The Christmas gift God gives, however, does. It isn’t limited to external change. Instead, it has the ability to change us from the inside out. It has the ability to change everything about us through and through.
What is God’s Christmas Gift?
More than a what, it is a who. God’s gift to us is a person. In Luke chapter 2, we learn that Mary and Joseph had to return to Joseph’s hometown of Bethlehem because Caesar Augustus called for all to be registered. A census was to be taken for tax purposes. All the Roman world was to be counted.
Ceasar couldn’t have picked a worse time for Mary. She was 9 months pregnant, and in no condition to be traveling. But they had no other choice, so they started out for Bethlehem. Once they reached that city, we are told starting in verse 6 that:
“the time came for her [Mary] to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.” (Lk 2:6b-7)
Now, from chapter 1, we know that the son who was born to Mary was Jesus, God’s Son. While that was known by Mary and her family, it wasn’t widely known by others. That, however, was about to change. Beginning in verse 8 of Luke chapter 2 we read,
“And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. 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.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”” (Lk 2:8–14)
You see, soon after Jesus was born a group of angels appeared to some dirty, stinky ole shepherds out in a field watching over their sheep. Typical shepherds wouldn’t be the ones to receive important news. God, however, doesn’t operate in a typical fashion. What we think should occur is not always what God has planned. He often works in ways that confound and challenge us.
But nevertheless, these shepherds were the ones who received the news that a Savior, who is Christ the Lord had been born. They were the first outside of Mary and Joseph’s family to know that God’s gift of Jesus had been given to us.
With the angel’s announcement, we learn that several things about this newly born baby.
We learn that Jesus isn’t just another man.
Jesus is the Savior, the Christ. In other words, He is the One anointed, chosen, and promised by God to be the One who would save us from our sins. The One who would repair our relationship with the Father and deal a death blow to Satan. He is the One through whom God would make this world right again.
We also learn that Jesus is our Lord.
He is the One who has been designated by God to reign and rule over this broken world. He is God’s chosen King.
After the shepherds heard the news, they went to Bethlehem, saw the Savior for themselves, and then we are told in verse 20 that:
“…the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.” (Lk 2:20)
Just as the Shepherds rejoiced that night seeing the Father’s Christmas gift, we too should be driven to praise and glorify God for sending Jesus. That’s because Jesus is our Lord and Savior who provides a new way of life.
In what ways does Jesus provide us with a whole new way of life? We’ll pick up here next time.
Question for Reflection
- Did you praise God for His gift this Christmas?
Post adapted from my sermon What’s God’s Christmas Gift to Us?