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Christmas Gifts

A memorable Christmas of mine stretches back a few years. I was under 10 years old but older than five, I think. I remember unwrapping a big present. It came up to my waist at the time. It was a chemistry set that my mom had picked up at a yard sale. The slightly rusted doors told me it was not new. But I didn't care. I didn't expect it. I was surprised. And so it was a gift in every sense of the word.

With kids it seems so important that gifts be a surprise. With teenagers it's more tricky because it's very hard to know what they like. Their desires and likes are moving targets. With my wife and I it's very easy to gives a lot of "guidance" for fear of getting something useless. It's hard for a gift to be a surprise when that happens.

One of the reasons why Jesus is the perfect gift is because his coming was so surprising. Jesus was not on the world's Christmas list. The world did not expect him. Had the world given "guidance" to the Gift-giver they wouldn't have wanted Jesus, wouldn't have wanted weakness, vulnerability, poverty. They would've wanted power, strength, clout, political status, security, and military prowess.

But God didn't give a gift to impress. He gave a gift to save. What kind of gift should God give to save? Jesus had to be a surprise because most people think they can save themselves and so the only gift needed would be the gift they think they want, not what they need. They don't think they need a Savior but only someone to make them healthy when they're not, happy or not, rich whether they are or not (who would deny they could be richer). For the world, Jesus would need to take care of their major problem which is usually something or someone else, not them, their sin, their brokenness.

But the Bible's conclusion is very different. The gift under the world's Christmas tree is not what the world expected. It's a weak gift. Jesus came in weakness to take care of the problem, the real problem, the problem inside. The problem is never "out there," but within. Other people are not making us miserable, our sin is. That is what Jesus came to deal with. If Jesus came to destroy all of the evildoers, we would all be destroyed, but Jesus is an unexpected gift. The gift of salvation, forgiveness of sin.

I'm so glad the gift of Christmas is so surprising, unexpected, and glorious that it saved a wretch like me. He is born! A Son is given! So is a gift!

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