What is the best gift you ever received?
It might have been a gift of great value for some of you. Some families give extravagant gifts at Xmas—large gifts of cash, jewelry, and fine automobiles with a red bow on top, just like the television commercials. I’ve never been part of that family, but I hear they exist!
Other people appreciate gifts because of where they come from. Every parent knows the joy of receiving a handmade craft from their child or a homemade card with the words “I love you” scrawled in crayons on the front. Of course, those kinds of gifts tend to mean more when they come from your 5-year-old child rather than your 25-year-old child—but they are meaningful.
Sometimes, we appreciate gifts because they meet a practical need we have. Several years ago, I conducted a funeral service for an 84-year-old friend. His daughter-in-law wrote a tribute to him in which she reminisced about a special Christmas gift the man had purchased for his wife.
“It was boxed and meticulously wrapped by Dad himself. It was undoubtedly one of the most precious gifts I’ve ever seen. Not diamonds, pearls, or a fur coat. It was a year’s supply of mom’s preferred toiletries—multiple cans of hairspray, antiperspirant, talcum powder, lotions, and so forth. To me, it was a beautiful expression of a mature love that said, “I know you better and love you more than anyone else on the face of the earth, and I know what you need and use every single day of the year, and I’m going to make sure you have it.” I get misty-eyed, thinking of Dad going up and down the aisle at Sam’s, lovingly shopping for those precious gifts for his beloved wife.”
But the ideal gift, the ultimate gift, would be one that was very valuable, came from someone important to us, and met a very real need of ours—which is the kind of gift God offered us at Bethlehem.
In 2 Corinthians 9, Paul challenges the Corinthians to give their financial resources to support God’s work. He reminds them of the truth that you can’t out-give God. And then, in verse 15, he gives them an example of sacrificial giving. When you consider what you are going to give to the Lord of your financial resources, consider the gift God Gave you.
Paul describes Jesus Christ as God’s “indescribable gift.” That is interesting coming from a learned man like Paul, who had more degrees than you shake a stick at. He was a published author who studied under Gamaliel, the greatest intellect of the day. Yet, when describing the gift of Jesus Christ, Paul was at a loss for words. All he could say was “indescribable”—a word Paul made up—it doesn’t appear anywhere else in the New Testament.
What made God’s gift of Jesus Christ a gift beyond description? As hard as I have tried to stay away from the Christmas story, I can’t. Neither could Paul. You see, the whole basis of our giving to God is to really understand the gift he gave to us—a gift given freely and a totally undeserved gift custom-made to fulfill our greatest need.
Consider these three characteristics of this gift that made it indescribable.
1. God’s Indescribable Gift Was Preceded by Elaborate Preparation (Luke 2:1-5)
There was a lot of excitement at my sister’s home in Tyler one Christmas years ago. My oldest niece is a gifted pianist; more than anything, she wanted a baby grand piano. My sister took her to the different piano stores, and my niece knew exactly the one she wanted.
After several weeks my sister broke the news to her. “Honey, maybe someday we can save enough money to purchase one. But we just don’t have the money right now. However, we found a used upright that will have to be done for now.” My niece was disappointed but said she understood and was resigned to the fact that she wouldn’t get the instrument she wanted.
My niece didn’t know what I’d known for a long time. Her mother is a great liar. For many weeks preceding Christmas, my sister and her husband had been making elaborate preparations for Christmas morning. They all went out for breakfast, and when they returned, there in the middle of the room was that baby grand piano with a red ribbon tied around it.
There were some elaborate preparations made to ensure that God’s gift of the Lord Jesus Christ came just at the right time.
- It Was the Right Time Culturally
- It Was the Right Time Politically
- It Was the Right Time Spiritually
- It Was the Right Time Prophetically
2. God’s Indescribable Gift Was Missed by Its Simple Appearance (Luke 2:6-12)
Most people missed the birth of the Savior because they couldn’t accept the wrapping in which He came.
The Messiah, the King of Kings, the Savior of the World, should be wrapped in a regal robe, not in worn strips of cloth. That is why most of the Jews missed Christ. Christ did not meet their expectations and fulfill their perceived needs. The Jews thought they needed liberation from Rome—but their most pressing need was liberation from their sins.
You may think your most pressing need is a fresh infusion of cash into your bank account, healing from an illness, or reconciliation in your marriage. You’re not interested in hearing all of that stuff about a baby in a manger who came to die for your sins. That may explain your lack of enthusiasm for the Christmas story. You can’t truly appreciate the good news until you first understand the bad news—that you are a sinner in desperate need of our Savior.
All of our lives are ruined by sin. As hard as we try, we cannot remove the stain of sin ourselves. But Christ’s blood is the perfect spiritual remedy that forever eliminates our sins. And it costs us nothing. It is available to all who believe.
1 John 1:9 says, “if we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
The Gift: Preceded by elaborate preparation. Missed by its simple appearance.
3. God’s Indescribable Gift Was Occasioned by Unparalleled Love (Luke 2:13-15)
One of the powerful images in the Bible that describes God’s feelings for us is of the wounded lover. God loves us, and yet we have left God. We have allowed other people and other things to replace him in our hearts.
Even though we have offended God and have wounded him, he took the first step in reestablishing a relationship with us by sending Christ. He wants to make peace with us because He loves us. He was willing to pay the ultimate price to regain fellowship with us. That is the Christmas Message.