God’s Gift of Christmas
Intro: It’s great to be here. Christmas is almost here. It truly is the most wonderful time of year. The decorations really brighten things up. People seem to be in a better mood. We get to sing some great Christmas songs this time of year. And of course there are the gifts. But what makes this time of year even greater is that we gather to celebrate the real reason for the season. God’s gift to us, his son, Jesus.
I think a lot of people try to celebrate Christmas without Christ, and I think they are really missing something because, for me, what really makes Christmas special is the sweet, warm presence of God in our midst when we gather for services like this. There just isn’t anything like it. It is the most unique and special moment of Christmas. But that moment isn’t just once a year, it can be year round.
If you have your Bibles, turn with me to Romans Chapter 5. We’ll be looking at verses 15-17. I know, you’re not expecting to be reading out of Romans for Christmas. This is way past our traditional Christmas verses in the gospels. But I think it’s fitting because it has to do with our ultimate Christmas gift.
Before I get to that, let me share with you a story that I came across regarding the Wright Brothers: In December 1903, after many attempts, the Wright brothers were successful in getting their “flying machine” off the ground. Thrilled, they telegraphed this message to their sister Katherine: “We have actually flown 120 feet. Will be home for Christmas.” Katherine hurried to the editor of the local newspaper and showed him the message. He glanced at it and said, “How nice. The boys will be home for Christmas.” He totally missed the big news–man had flown!
And that’s how it is today. As wonderful as it is for family to be home for Christmas, the big news is the true meaning of Christmas. The birth of our savior.
Scripture: Romans 5:15-17
15 But the gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more did God’s grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many! 16 Nor can the gift of God be compared with the result of one man’s sin: The judgment followed one sin and brought condemnation, but the gift followed many trespasses and brought justification. 17 For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ!
Central Truth: In that short passage, the word ‘gift’ was used five times. Five times in three verses. And what did Paul consider the gift? God’s son, Jesus. When we look back on our Christmases and we look back on some of our favorite gifts, we treasured those gifts all year long. Maybe we treasured them for many years, maybe we still have those gifts decades later somewhere in a closet.
I still have things from my childhood and teenage years that I’ve kept because I’ve treasured them. Our families give us good gifts. I spoke in a sermon not too long ago the passage where Jesus says, “If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him.”
God promises to give us good gifts. But the single most important gift that God gave was his son. To quote Jesus again, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son. That whosoever believes in him will not perish but have everlasting life.”
Point: Going back to those words in Romans again, what Paul is relating to his readers is that Adam’s one act of sin opened up the gateway that flooded all humanity with sin. But God’s gift of his son brought salvation from sin for all of humanity.
Ray Steadman said that, One trespass brought death; the death of Jesus brought forgiveness for thousands of trespasses. All your life, as many times as you sin, you cannot out-sin the grace of God. No matter how many trespasses are involved in your record, there is freedom in Christ and forgiveness for all of them.
It’s kind of odd in our own human way of thinking to think that the forgiveness of sins should be a gift from God. I mean, we don’t deserve God’s gift of salvation. He’s the one we’re sinning against, and yet he’s the one providing a free way out.
It’s easy to understand God wanting to give good gifts to his children. That’s one way in which we understand love. When we love someone, we give them gifts. But when we mess up, we feel as if we should do something to make it right. That we owe God compensation or something. We’ll work for it. What do I need to do to earn it?
But in God’s eyes, there is not anything that we could do to earn our salvation. There just isn’t. Our salvation is just too high of a price for us to afford to pay. We just don’t have the means to pay it.
In June of 2008, a rich 80-year old Indian widow, spent thousands of dollars on a feast for 100,000 people hoping it would please the gods and open the doors of heaven for her. She fed lunch to people from surrounding villages and towns for two consecutive days. She has no family or relatives to bequeath her property, so Mrs. Kunwar spent $37,500 on the feast.
Isaiah 64:6 says that all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags in God’s sight. No amount of benevolence can earn someone the right to dwell in Heaven or forgive their sin.
So what can we do? Well, we can live the best life possible, right? But how good is that? How good is good enough?
During an edition of the news program 60 Minutes, Dan Rather interviewed Jack Welch, the outspoken former CEO of General Electric. At the end of the interview, Rather asked Welch, “What’s the toughest question you have ever been asked?”
Welch replied, “Do you think you’ll go to Heaven?”
When asked how he had answered that question, Welch said, “It’s a long answer, but I said that if caring about people, if giving it your all, if being a great friend counts—despite the fact that I’ve been divorced a couple of times, and no one’s proud of that. I haven’t done everything right all the time. I think I got a shot. I’m in no hurry to get there and to find out any time soon.”
The truth is, it doesn’t matter how wealthy you are or how good you might be, no one is good enough to get to Heaven except for Christ. We must trust Him and Him alone to forgive our sins and save our soul.
They say that:
- Longfellow could take a worthless sheet of paper, write a poem on it, and make it worth $6,000—that’s genius.
- Rockefeller could sign his name to a piece of paper and make it worth a million dollars—that’s capital.
- Uncle Sam can take gold, stamp an eagle on it, and make it worth $20.00—that’s money.
- A mechanic can take material that is worth only $5.00 and make it worth $50.00—that’s skill.
- An artist can take a piece of canvas, paint a picture on it, and make it worth $1,000—that’s art.
- God can take a sinful life, wash it in the blood of Christ, put His Spirit in it, and make it a blessing to humanity—that’s salvation.
And it is a free gift. When Jesus said that “God so loved the world,” he meant it. God so loved the world that he sent us a gift. The greatest gift anyone could ever receive. The gift of salvation. But the gift cost God a lot.
To show us how much he loved us, he sent his son. It’s tough to go to war, I’m sure. But it would be tougher to send your child to war than to go yourself. I’m sure that when Abraham put Isaac on the altar, he would have rather chosen a way to put himself on that altar. When God sent his only son to Earth to die the cruelest death imaginable, it was an act of showing us just how much he loves us.
God sent Jesus to Earth. Jesus, out of his love for his father, obeyed and came to earth as a baby in a quiet, silent night to show us in multiple ways throughout his life and death the true heart of God. It was planned before the foundation of the world. God knew that we would need a savior. The trinity agreed upon the plan of salvation of mankind before going ahead with making this earth and the people that would inhabit it.
Adam’s sin was no surprise. It was expected. It was a natural outcome for the plan of humanity. Adam’s sin and Jesus’ sacrifice was worth it to God to have you and I as adopted children of God.
Christmas is about that. Christmas is about God’s gift to us. Not just our gifts to each other. Not just Santa Clause bringing us presents, though that’s a wonderful way to add into our celebration, it’s not the real reason. Santa isn’t the one who brings the greatest gift. God’s gift of salvation is the real reason for the season. A gift that we cannot earn, and a gift that we do not deserve.
And the least that we could do is to praise God and celebrate the coming of his son.
Conclusion: Before we close, I would like to offer you a chance to receive God’s gift of salvation. I don’t want to leave anyone out. I don’t want to make an assumption that because you are all here that you have already received God’s gift. Today would make the perfect day to receive God’s gift of salvation. Just before we celebrate Christmas, and just before we enter into a new year and new decade, maybe there can be a new you, too.
If you’ve never prayed to receive Christ, all you have to do is pray this prayer with me. You can repeat it silently in your heart, if you’d like.
- Dear Lord, I thank you for sending your son as my free gift of salvation.
- I know that I cannot earn that gift, and I know that I do not deserve that gift.
- But Lord, right now, I accept that gift and ask for the forgiveness of my sins and the cleansing of my heart right now.
- I pray that your Holy Spirit would make me new.
- I thank you and praise you in Jesus name, amen.