Read an Excerpt
Jesus, the Ultimate Gift
Unwrapping the Indescribable Gift of Christmas
By Lance Wubbels
Thomas NelsonCopyright © 2011 Lance Wubbels
All rights reserved.
GOD'S ULTIMATE GIFT
The angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary,you have found favor with God. You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus.
He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High."
This past Christmas Eve I took my life into my own hands. I stood in the long entry hallway of a Costco store during the late afternoon as what seemed like hundreds of large empty carts rumbled past me two or three abreast. Frantic last-minute shoppers, mostly men and young people, had fought the good fight for a parking spot and defied me to step into their path and delay their rush to grab a large fluffy robe or a hoodie before time ran out.
In the midst of the busyness of the Christmas season, stampeding with the crowds from one mall store to another, I'm sure you may have wondered the same thing that I was wondering, Does anyone here even realize what Christmas is about in the first place?
The apostle John wrote, "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life" (John 3:16).
When we consider the meaning of these words, so easily lost in the hustle and bustle of the season, we realize the reason we celebrate Christmas is God's ultimate Gift to man, His Son Jesus Christ.
God loved. God gave.
His one and only Son.
As the bells ring out the joys of Christmas, we need to remember that God the Father was the One who began the giving traditions we enjoy today. The world's best Christmas was on the very first Christmas when God gifted mankind with our Savior Jesus Christ. God has, as it were, pulled back the curtain on His glory and love and placed His Son before us. We behold the wonder of the birth of Jesus Christ, the beauty of His life, and the unfathomable grandeur of His person, and we feel overwhelmed that God invites us to come and worship Him.
God became one of us ... as a baby boy with a tiny smile and two ears and ten fingers and ten toes. Once we see Him for who He really is, we are never the same.
On that first Christmas morning when Mary kissed her newborn child, she wasn't just kissing a baby— she was kissing the face of God.
Late on a sleepy, star-spangled night, those angels peeled back the sky just like you would tear open a sparkling Christmas present. Then, with light and joy pouring out of heaven like water through a broken dam, they began to shout and sing the message that baby Jesus had been born. The world had a Savior! The angels called it "good news," and it was.
He who has not Christmas in his heart will never find it under a tree.
ROY L. SMITHCHAPTER 2
Jesus, God's indescribable gift
Thanks be to God for his INDESCRIBABLE GIFT!
2 CORINTHIANS 9:15
It might surprise you to learn that for a period of time during the Middle Ages, Christmas gift giving was banned by the church due to its suspected pagan origins. It was later justified by the church on the basis that it associated St. Nicholas with Christmas and that the biblical Magi, or wise men, "saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh" (Matthew 2:11). Giving to others should be a natural expression of our gratitude to the ultimate Gift Giver.
Do you remember the best Christmas gift you ever received? Was it your first doll or favorite stuffed animal or a gold necklace? Perhaps it was your first bike or an XBox 360 or a Sony Playstation or a bucket of Legos. It might have been a storybook or a John Deere tractor.
Mine came around fifty years ago, but I remember it as if it were yesterday. When I was seven years old, over the course of the summer of '59, I made many special bike trips up the dusty gravel road from my boyhood house to our local country store just to take extended gazes at the big box on the highest shelf near the front counter. Well out of a child's reach, that box contained a white safari hunting hat and the most beautiful plastic, big game hunting rifle and scope I'd ever seen. From the first moment I saw it, I ached to have that toy gun in my arms, and I dreamed of the day when I sighted it in on a charging elephant and calmly pulled the trigger.
Then one fateful Saturday morning some time around Halloween, my dreams of safari hunts of tigers and lions suddenly died. I once again rode my bike to the store, and the treasured rifle and hat were gone. The space on the sacred shelf was a cavernous hole, dashing my hopes that somehow, someway that rifle would become mine, even though I knew the gift would be far too expensive for my parents to buy for me. I walked out of the store crushed beyond words, hoping I never ran into the lucky kid who got my gun.
Mercifully, fall gave way to the snow and cold of winter, and the bitterness over the loss of the big game rifle diminished. Eventually Christmas morning arrived, and I jumped out of bed, looking forward to whatever presents had arrived in the night. To my utter shock, among the handful of small presents that sat under the Christmas tree for me, my sister, and my brother was a box so big it hardly fit beneath the tree boughs. It was just too much to even imagine, but that box had my name on it! Ripping off the wrapping, it did indeed contain my heart's desire. That rifle and hat were everything I'd dreamed and more. I have no doubt I was the happiest child in the entire world that blessed morning.
Let us remember that the Christmas heart is a giving heart, a wide open heart that thinks of others first. The birth of the baby Jesus stands as the most significant event in all history, because it has meant the pouring into a sick world the healing medicine of love that has transformed all manner of hearts for almost two thousand years ... Underneath all the bulging bundles is this beating Christmas heart.
GEORGE MATTHEW ADAMSCHAPTER 3
HOW CAN A GIFT BE "INDESCRIBABLE"?
Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
"Glory to God in the highest, AND ON EARTH PEACE TO MEN ON WHOM HIS FAVOR RESTS."
As wonderful as my best ever Christmas gift was, so wonderful that I can still feel the gun in my hands, let me ask you, "Have you ever received a gift that was beyond description—a gift so good that no words could be found to adequately describe it?" My best gift ever was marvelous, but it surely did not come close to being classified as "indescribable." I can still list off a dozen exacting details regarding that gun.
What kind of gift would it have to be to qualify as being "indescribable," as the apostle Paul states regarding his vision of Jesus Christ? When is a gift so pure in toto that it is beyond recounting, beyond description, beyond being set forth in detail?
For instance, a gift can be so high tech that we may not even know what it is or what it does, but we can be assured that its manufacturer has described it in such an appealing way as to have enticed someone into believing that it was just the gift we needed.
A gift can be so filled with pleasant memories and emotions that we could never put into words what it means to us, but that in no way limits us from describing the gift itself with precision.
A gift can be so high priced that it staggers our imagination, but that does not make it indescribable. Just ask the marketing team created the ad that tells us we can't live without it.
You see, every man-made gift is describable by someone. And every human gift, even the best ones, including my prized big game hunting rifle, is only temporary. One day, maybe sooner rather than later, our gifts wear out or break, or we outgrow them.
However, the gift of Jesus Christ is not merely "unspeakable" but is beyond words and lasts forever. The greatest gift ever given is the very first gift of Christmas—the person of Jesus. When God gave His one and only Son, He gave the whole world a priceless, indescribable present whose value will not diminish or tarnish over time.
Arnold Toynbee, the great British historian, has said,
And now as we stand indeed with our eyes fixed upon the further shore, a single figure rises from the flood and straightway fills the whole horizon of history. There stands Jesus, the Savior.
The coming of Jesus Christ is not a mere warm cuddly holiday tradition, but He is Light and Life breaking into human history. His story is our direct link to a loving heavenly Father. The baby born to Mary holds the keys to eternal life. He is full of grace and glory, and we have the opportunity by faith to behold Him who was worthy of the prophets' foretelling, so that we, as the wise men did, might worship our God.
Christ is the great central fact of the world's history. To Him everything looks forward or backward. All lines of history converge upon Him. All the great purposes of God culminate in Him. The greatest and most momentous fact that the history of the world records is the fact of His birth.
CHARLES SPURGEONCHAPTER 4
An indescribable gift because of who He is
"The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel" —which means, "God with us."
Three simple words contain the fullness of the Christmas story:
God with us.
Yet who would be so brazen as to claim he or she comprehends the meaning of those words? Who can explain this miracle that transcends all other miracles? How does the infinite, omnipotent, self-existent One, co-equal with God the Father and the Holy Spirit, join Himself with our human nature? How does the uncreated Creator of the heavens and earth become a part of His very own creation?
In Christmas, we celebrate the astonishing, phenomenal generosity and love of God—the marvel and mystery of God loving us so much that He chose to become one of us. Into the midst of the world's problems and pain, the invisible and transcendent God came near in the touchable form of His only Son. The Eternal One stepped into time!
Kevin Vanhoozer has said,
The good news is that in the face of Jesus Christ we see the very face of God, the One who has decided to be with us and for us in spite of our sin.
Marvelous! Wonderful! But how?
No one has ever come close to defining the fullness of what the gift of Jesus Christ means. All of the Church's most thoughtful scholars and theologians have never been able to unfold to us "the mystery of godliness," which the apostle Paul states is "great" (1 Timothy 3:16). How does one possibly put into words what it means for a living man to be able to state, "I and the Father are one" (John 10:30)?
Ignatius of Antioch, an early Church Father, wrote to the church at Ephesus and said this of Jesus:
Very flesh, yet Spirit too:
Uncreated, and yet born;
God and man in one agreed,
Very life-in-death indeed.
Fruit of god and Mary's seed;
At once impassible and torn
By pain and suffering here below;
Jesus Christ, whom as our lord we know.
How does one understand this? How do you describe Jesus Christ?
As Charles Spurgeon said, "Jesus Christ was not an angel or a subordinate deity or a being elevated to the Godhead. He was as surely God as God can be, one with the Father and the ever-blessed Holy Spirit. All that God means, the infinite Jehovah with us, this was worthy of the burst of the midnight song when angels startled the shepherds with their carols.... God—therein is the glory; God with us—therein is the grace. Let us admire this truth. Let us stand at a reverent distance from it as Moses when he saw God in the bush and put off his shoes, feeling that the place where he stood was holy ground. This is a wonderful fact: God the infinite dwelt in the frail body of a lowly man."
The Son is theradiance of God's gloryand the exact representation of his being, sustaining all thingsby his powerful word.
We are quickly lost in mysteries when we attempt to comprehend the person of Jesus Christ.
He is not merely a good man or even a superman; He is God in human flesh.
He is not half God and half man.
He is not merely a man who "had God within Him" or a man who "manifested the God principle."
We come face to face with One who is fully divine and fully man. The divine One has condescendingly taken upon Himself our humanity, and He is most truly man. The divine nature was not changed or altered. He is God, the second person of the Trinity.
Yet while these are accurate theological descriptions, none of our interpretations fathoms their depth or begins to explain the absolutely infinite, uncreated God coming to us as one of us. He was truly the person of God clothed as a baby and lying in a lowly manger, then later walking freely among us that He might untie all of the knots and tangles in our confused and twisted ideas about God and ourselves and about life. He was God wrapped up in human form, coming close that we might be given the unbelievable opportunity to know Him—not exhaustively, but to truly know Him.
It boggles the mind to think that the King of kings and Lord of lords was born to a young virgin peasant girl in Bethlehem! We are left to shake our heads in wonder and say with those who watched Him perform His miracles, "What manner of Man is this?" We are given a glimpse into the divine nature, and He shines with all the fullness of divine glory we would ever expect.
But we can never plunge to discern His depths or soar to His heights or journey to His limitless horizon. Our finite thoughts can no more capture the Savior God than a child can capture the ocean by bottling up a little saltwater in a plastic bottle at the beach.
Jesus is truly indescribable. We stand and gaze upon His boundless person and are left to a lifetime of contemplation ... and to worship before the One who was with God and who was God. Is there any doubt that through out eternity we will forever speak with wonder about the miracle and the mystery of His coming?
Excerpted from Jesus, the Ultimate Gift by Lance Wubbels. Copyright © 2011 Lance Wubbels. Excerpted by permission of Thomas Nelson.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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