As we approach the season we Christians observe as the birth of our Lord and Savior, we turn our collective focus to the tradition of giving and receiving gifts. At the risk of abusing another cliché, it is frequently said we need to focus on the Giver and not the Gift. I want to turn our collective attention to the simplest, and perhaps quintessential truth of scripture:
The foundation of salvation is found in one of the Gospels’ most familiar scriptures:
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16 – ESV)
Do you see that, God loved so He gave! You see, considering the Gift, we must regard both the Giver and the Gift in equal esteem. In Jesus, God gave the ultimate Gift: Himself! The Gift and the Giver are one and the same!
I remember when my kids were just toddlers and when I wanted to truly understand them or, likewise, when I wanted them to really understand me and see my heart, I’d kneel down to their level. It is at that point when we were close enough for eye contact and we could gauge one another’s emotional content. This is what God did in Jesus. He, as a loving Father, stooped down to the level of his created child by wrapping Himself in that selfsame flesh.
This is the essence of Emmanuel – God with us!
Here is where it gets interesting, though. When you receive a gift from someone (jewelry, perfume/cologne, clothing, etc.) it can be something exciting or rewarding. However, imagine the joy felt by a wife and her children when her husband and father of her children returns from a lengthy combat deployment. Which do you think either would prefer – a material gift or the gift of the father’s presence?
Daddy’s presence is always better!
This is why Jesus said it was expedient that He go to the Father (John 16:7), that the Comforter – the omnipresent, indwelling Holy Spirit – would come.
What is the result – or endgame – of this Gift?
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9)
But wait, there’s more!
For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:23)
Did you catch that? Salvation is not a gift from God, it is the Gift of God – and that salvation is in the form of the Person of Jesus Christ.
God giving Himself!
This, right here, is a shouting moment. You know how the old saints would say, “Just give me Jesus…” Well, you could stop right there and say, “Whoomp, there it is!” But Jesus, Himself, said He is the door:
So Jesus again said to them, Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. 8 All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. 9 I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. (John 10:7-9)
So, if Jesus is the door, what is he the door to? He is the door to the Kingdom, the very thing that He told us to seek first (Matthew 6:33). Jesus told us clearly that it is the Father’s good pleasure to give us The Kingdom (Luke 12:32). Here, too, we must understand is that to access a locked door, you must have a key. The Keys of the Kingdom are given in Matthew 16:19.
What we have then, is a loving Father, kneeling down to give His children a present that was locked away but He provides the Keys to open it, the contents of which is His presence!
And therein lies what God wants to give us – that which He gave us from the beginning; The present of His presence. It was God’s plan from the beginning to dwell with us – man lost the abiding presence of God; Jesus restored it.
Thanks be to God for His unspeakable, inexpressible Gift (2 Corinthians 9:15)
© 2012 – Derrick Day (www.derrickday.com)