The First Christmas Gifts

Bible Book: John  1 : 1-13
Subject: Christmas; Birth of Jesus

The First Christmas Gifts

Dr. J. Mike Minnix, Editor,

John 1:1-13: "1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it. There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. This man came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all through him might believe. He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. That was the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. 11 He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. 12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: 13 who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God." NJKV

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, the last year I checked, was that the average family in America spends $749.00 on Christmas trees, wrapping paper, bows, and gifts. You can be sure that figure is much higher today - more likely around $2000.00 per family. In fact, one report states that Americans spent six billion (Yes, that is billion!) dollars on Christmas lights in 2011. With the increase income and spending in the last few years, that is probably more than twenty billion dollars now. No wonder the stores put out Christmas items in late August these days. (Statistics from:, 2014).

Sadly, many people buying and giving gifts have no idea about the very first Christmas Gift, and the accompany gifts that created the gift giving phenomenon around the world today. 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.

Note first ....

I. The Love of God

The first gift is 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 are prone to 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 are. 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 killing millions of people. My point is, most of us live each day without a thought concerning atoms, protons, electrons, and many other minute details that make up matter. That is how many people deal with God and with Christmas. They know the story but it means little or nothing to them. They skip right passed the most important aspects 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 for those who ignore or reject it. Like the atom, with blessing and cursing in it, there are precious factors and perilous factors in the Christmas story.

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

Look at this gift in more detail. First, we see ...

A. The Expression of His Love

Jesus is the full expression of God's love for us. He provided the best heaven had to give when He sent His Son to this earth. God did not look for an angel with a broken wing to send for your redemption and mine. Besides, an angel had no power or perfection to provide for our salvation. 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 new leaf and become better people; we needed a new life and that was only possible through God's Gift - Jesus.

Also, consider ...

B. The Expectation of His Love

In essence, one might say that the people were surprised by love of God. The world did not expect this to happen, even though God expected them to receive His Gift. They were surprised because of Who He was, where He came from, and what He was going to do through death on the cross and resurrection from the grave.

A surprise gift can be the most wonderful and exciting thing to receive. When I was only 32 years old, the church I pastored honored me and my wife on my first anniversary as their pastor. They gave us an all-expense paid trip to Israel. Jayne and I were going through some photos the other day - deciding which ones to keep and which ones to dispose of, and we found a photo of us standing at the front of the church when they announced the gift. I had my face in my hands, for I was in tears. I could not imagine such a gift to us - especially when we had only been with them one year. Surprising gifts are special and unique. Literally, God surprised the world by giving His Son to be a man, a perfect man, to die for the sins of the world. Sure, He had prophesied this gift in the Old Testament scriptures, but only the most elite scholars read or could understand the Holy Word of God. Besides, most of them wrongly interpreted what God had said. The Lord had a plan - a loving, sacrificial plan to save us from our selves - from our sin - and He placed the Gift where we can find it - where you can find Him!

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 and fail to see that God is offering a Perfect Savior for this sinful, lost, broken and soon to be judged world.

Note also ...

C. The Expense of His Love

We see the Gift of God 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 a couple of thoughts.

  • Jesus was born in the least of places
  • Jesus was born to the least of women
  • Jesus was born in the least of world nations at the time

Yet, He came to be the door to salvation and grace that is available to all who will believe and receive this Gift. Jesus was born in the Land God has chosen - but note that the lowly place reveals that the gift is for All - not just the elite - religious - but for everyone who is willing to humbly come to Him in the same way that He humbly came 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, and 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 react with anger. He always did what the Father told Him to do. Unlike us, He never strayed, rebelled or wandered away from the divine path.

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 in His Cradle
  • We see His love in His Conduct
  • We see His love in His Compassion
  • We see His love in His Conversation
  • We see His love in His Cross
  • We see His love in His Conquest over the grave

In John 3 the volcano of His love is shown 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. No gift will ever come close to the cost or value of God's gift in Christ.

Now, let's look at ...

II. The Light of God

The second gift is 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 over 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 shines in the darkest corners of this world.

I preached a trail sermon at First Baptist Church in Lilburn, Georgia (Metro Atlanta) in April of 1990, and moved there to be pastor in May of that year. I preached the trial message during morning services at 8:30 AM and 11:00 AM. During the 8:30 service an amazing thing happened. There was present that day a Muslim from Iran who heard the message and responded, saying that he wanted to accept Jesus Christ as His Savior and Lord. 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. The darkness cannot stop the Light.

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

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, but is rather the darkness which is in the soul of mankind. There is a darkness called sin in every human being. That is why you are warned to never trust strangers and evern to 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 or student ministry, we want to be sure they are safe and are among good and strong Christian leaders. There is a darkness in this world that is foreboding and fearful to the human heart.

Jesus came to throw divine light upon the dark path of our lives. He came to put light in our souls, but also to place a light along the pathway we are to 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 you 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.

Jesus came as the Light of the world, and how very much we need that Light today.

Note also that ...

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."

Well, we can say that we are all poor when it comes to spiritual wealth. Jesus became poor so that we might be removed from our spiritual poverty. He became poor in this world that we might be rich in grace, forgiveness and peace. 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 Him. 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 awaits the souls of mankind. Doom holds sway over us, for all of us are sinners. The darkness of a godless death lay before us, but Jesus came with a star shining down from heaven. That star was revealing Jesus as 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 Light 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 eternal in HIs hands. He delivers all who come to Him for the awful darkness of a Christ-less grave.

Lastly, look with me at ...

III. The Life of God

The third gift is the Provision of the Life of God - the Life in God - the Life from 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 nor 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. The New Birth 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. The New Birth 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. He offers the New Birth into the family of God through His Son, Jesus. Does repentance and faith in Jesus actually save a person and place that person in the family of God? Yes. So, how do I know that this is true? Because the Father said so!

C. The New Birth 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!"

Ah, there it is! When you have Jesus as Savior and Lord, He is no longer just a baby born in a manger long ago - no, He becomes a resident in your heart and life. Not only that, but He promises never to leave you and to one day take you to Him home to live in His presence.


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. This is the greatest gift you will ever be offered - but you must receive it - you must receive Him as Lord and Savior.