The First Christmas Gifts

Bible Book: John  1
Subject: Christmas; Birth of Jesus
Introduction

Christmas is a time for giving. In fact, it has become such a time for giving that there is hardly anything else many people think about during Christmas but what they must give or what they hope to get. Reports vary, but the estimate for the year 2012, two years ago, was that the average family in America spends $749.00 on Christmas trees, wrapping paper, bows, and gifts. I think that is probably a low figure, but it adds up when you consider the number of families in our nation. In fact, one report states that Americans spent six billion (Yes, that is billion!) dollars on Christmas lights in 2011. Another study found that more than one in ten Americans begin shopping before September. No wonder the stores are putting out Christmas items in late August these days! (Statistics from: http://visual.ly/how-much-do-americans-spend-over-christmas, 2014).

Sadly, many people buying and gifting gift have no idea about the very first Christmas Gift, and the accompany gifts, the created this entire phenomenon. Oh, sure, they know something of the Christmas story and the gifts of the Magi, but that was just one part of the historical facts. I want us today to consider some gifts that were part of the Gift of God to us in the person of His Son.

I. The Presentation Of The Love Of God

John tells us that, "God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son that whosoever believeth on him should not perish but have everlasting life." It wasn't just a baby wrapped in strips of cloth in that manager - it was God's Son. It is so amazing that we can easily pass right over this fact. Let me share a story from science to illustrate how easy it is to slide right past great truths. Atoms have been part of everything on earth since God created it. Early thinkers realized this, though they could not exactly prove the existence of atoms. The thing that is most important is that those early thinkers never had any idea just how powerful and useful atoms could be. It took years of long, laborious research for great thinkers to come to understand how atoms work and how they might work for us - or against us. Nuclear energy is a wonderful thing when used correctly and safely, but similar principles can be used to make a bomb that is capable of blowing up entire cities and millions of people. My point is, most of us live each day without a thought concerning atoms, protons, electrons, and many other minute details of matter. That is how many people deal with God and with Christmas. They know the story but it means nothing to them. They pass right by the most important aspect of what happened that night in Bethlehem. You see, this story can be a tremendous blessing to those who understand it and accept the gift of eternal life that Jesus came to provide; on the other hand, it can spell disaster for those who don't understand the consequences of ignoring it.

God love the world - He did - He does - He will. It means that He loves YOU! It is (He - Jesus is)  His PRESENT to you. Forgiveness - Life - Joy - Peace - Heaven! Have you opened this gift? Have you opened your heart to receive it?

A. The Expression Of His Love

Jesus is the full expression of God's love for us. He gave us the best heaven had to give. God did not look for an angel with a broken wing to send for you. Besides, an angel had no power or perfection to provide for your salvation and mine. He did not send some heavenly leftovers. He sent the Best! In fact, the Father knew that only His Son could provide what we needed. For those of us who have received Him, always remember that we did not turn over a knew leaf and become better people, we needed a new life and receiving it in the person of His Son!

B. The Expectation Of His Love

In essence, one might say that the people were surprised by love. The world did not expect this to happen. Yet God expected them to receive Him. They were surprised because of Who He was, where came from, and what He was going to do at the cross! A surprise gift can be the most wonderful and exciting gift. God surprised the world by giving His Son to be a man, a perfect man, to die for the sins of the world.

People are often surprised by tragedy and ask, "Why would God let this happen  to me or to my family?" Few ask, "How could God love this rotten world and all of us in it by sending His only Son to die for our sins?" People expect a perfect world when God is offering a Perfect Savior for this sinful, lost, broken and soon to be judged world!

C. The Expense Of His Love

We see His love gift in several ways.

1. The Arrival of Jesus in Bethlehem

Of all the places on earth, why was Jesus born in Bethlehem? The answer to that question would take far too long for this message, but let me just share one truth. Jesus was born in the least of places, to the least of women, in the least of world powers so that the least, last and lost among us can know that the door to salvation and grace is open to us!

2. The Action of Jesus in Life

Jesus wasn't just born, He grew and lived among the people of this world. His life was sinless and pure. He taught truths that astounded even the most learned men of His times. He visited the lame, blind and broken and restored them. He was attacked but did not return an attack against His enemies. He always did what the Father told Him to do. Unlike us, He never strayed, rebelled or wandered away from the divine pat.

3. The Atonement of Jesus at Calvary

His Birth, His behavior, and His burden speak volumes of the love of God. We see His love at the cradle, in his conduct, in his compassion, in his conversations, and most importantly at the Cross! Jesus was born that night in Bethlehem to begin a journey toward the old rugged cross. There He poured out His blood for your sins and mine.

Listen, in John 1 we see a volcano of God's love beginning to ooze forth with the affection of heaven. In John 3 the volcano is in full eruption, "For God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life."

The First Gift of Christmas was God's love revealed in Christ!

II. The Profusion Of The Light Of God

The world lay in darkness before the birth of Christ. Even the Jewish people, through whom the Savior was to be sent, had not had a prophet in 400 years! On that night in Bethlehem there burst forth in brilliance and glory the appearance of the Sun of Righteousness with healing in His wings (Malachi 4:16). The light had dawned upon a dark land (Isaiah 9:2). In Christ, God called to us saying, "Arise, shine, for thy light is come." (Isaiah 60:1). Jesus would later say of Himself, I am the Light of the world (John 8:12).

In what way was the world in darkness before the coming of Christ?

A. There Was Darkness In Our Position

Each person is in darkness without Christ. You can say that most of the world still lies in darkness. However, the Light has come. The Light is available. The Light of Jesus can shine in the darkest corner of this world. I moved to Georgia to pastor in the year 1990. I preached a trial sermon there in April of that year and moved to be pastor in May. I preached the trial message during morning services at 8:30 and 11:00. During the 8:30 service an amazing thing happened. There was present that day a Muslim from Iran. He heard the message and responded and said he wanted to know this Jesus personally. He gave his heart to Christ that day. Mehti was saved and came to the light. He had lived in darkness for a long time. Can I tell you, for those willing to look to the Light of the World, the darkness can control you no longer!

You see, one of the first gifts of Christmas was Light - spiritual Light - divine Light - saving Light - Jesus!

B. There Was Darkness In Our Path

The world was not just living in darkness when Jesus came, they were walking down a dark path. Have you ever been afraid of the dark? When you were a child, did you ever feel that there were ghosts or creatures hiding under your bed or in your closet? Did you ever walk home from a friend's house at night and feel that you were being followed? How about you as adults, do you ever wake up at night and hear a noise and wonder if someone is trying to break into your home? There is something fearful about the night.

The greatest darkness is not that which occurs every day when the day turns to night. The greatest darkness is in the soul of mankind. There is darkness called sin in every human being. That is why you are warned to never trust strangers and keep an eye on friends! I'll bet most of you locked your car before you came into church today, even though your car is in a church parking lot. And, if you women have to leave the room, I'll assure that you will take your purse with you. We know how evil the world is. When we leave our children in the preschool of student ministry, we want to be sure they are safe and are among good and strong Christian leaders.

Jesus came to throw divine light upon our path. He came to put light in our soul, but also to place a light along the pathway we are walk. Jesus said, "If the blind lead the blind, they both fall into the ditch." When you follow Jesus, He leads you. If we took time today, in this very service, to ask each Christian to tell of some point in time when God helped to avoid a terrible decision and make a right decision, we would likely be here till next week listening to each person describe the gift of light that God gave us in His Son.

C. There Was Darkness In Our Poverty

A little boy brought the preacher a quarter for the offering. The preacher said, "You just put it in the plate." The little boy responded, "Oh no, I couldn't do that. I wanted to make sure you got it. You see, I overheard my daddy say last Sunday that you were the poorest preacher in the whole world."

All of us are poor when it comes to spiritual wealth. He became poor so that we could become rich. He became a Son of man so we can become a sons of God. He became sin so that we can become His righteousness. Jesus was born to a poor mother and step-father. He was laid in a feeding trough for animals because no bed was available to them. But, the light of glory was in Him and emanating from Him. No matter how low you are today, the Light of the World is here for you.

D. There Was Darkness In Our Peril

Judgment was awaiting us. Doom held sway over us. The darkness of a godless death awaited us. But, Jesus came with a star shining down from heaven. I believe that star was revealing that Jesus is the Light of the World. But, there is more to it than that. You see, Jesus was born at night - in the darkness. But the Light was there. One day, a few years later, Jesus would die on a cruel Roman Cross and be laid in a dark tomb. But, the Light was there. The broke out of that tomb alive. He knocked the end out of the grave, stood on the chest of death, and held up the the keys to Life! He delivers all who come to Him for the awful darkness of a Christ-less grave!

III. The Provision Of The Life Of God

To be born is to have life. In this passage John tells us that Jesus came expressly so that we might be born, not of man or of the will of man, but of God. John was speaking of the new birth, which he would reiterate later from the words of Jesus found in John 3. The greatest gift of Christmas is the new birth available to all who receive Jesus as Savior and Lord.

A. It is A Legal Provision

He gave us "power" to be called the sons of God. The "power" mentioned in the Scripture speaks of the legal right. When the highest court speaks, the matter is settled. When God speaks on an issue, no higher court can or need be appealed to. He has provided redemption through His Son. To have Christ, is to have life! No higher court can overturn this decision. Jesus came as the final Word on the matter of salvation.

B. It is a Paternal Provision

In the days when the Bible was being formed, the father spoke for the children. God, the heavenly Father, spoke and declared His love through His Son. He had the authority and right to do so. No one can change it. Once the Father in heaven says it, it is final.

C. It is A Merciful Provision

Many years ago near the royal English residence on the Isle of Wight stood several homes for the poor and aged. A missionary, visiting some of the elderly people one day, asked a lady, "Does Queen Victoria ever call on you here?" She replied, "Oh, yes, her Majesty frequently comes to see us." Then, wondering if the woman was a Christian, the missionary inquired, "Does the King of Kings ever visit here?" The lady smiled with joy and said, "No, sir, He doesn't visit here - praise God, He lives here. That's why we're so richly blessed!"

He came to give each of us the original Christmas gifts of Love, Light and Life. Of course, those three gifts came wrapped in one package - and that package is Jesus!

Conclusion

Christmas means that:

He descended that we might ascend (John 6:38, 14:3).

He became poor that we might become rich (2 Corinthians 8:9).

He was born that we might be born again (John 3:2, 7).

He became a servant that we might become sons (Galatians 4:6, 7).

He had no home that we might have a home in heaven (John 14:2).

He was stripped that we might be clothed (Galatians. 3:27).

He was forsaken that we might not be forsaken (Matthew 28:20).

He was bound that we might go free (John 8:32-36).

He was made sin that we might be made righteous (1 Corinthians 5:21).

He died that we might live (John 5:24, 25).

He came down that we might be caught up (1 Thessalonians. 4:16, 17). (List adapted from Larry Farthing)

He gave gifts that first Christmas, and He gave gifts that keep on giving. Have you received His Son and all the gifts that come wrapped up in Him? You can do that today!