“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”—John 3:16 (NKJV)
I think we can all be completely honest with ourselves in admitting that we LOVE receiving gifts! Who doesn’t like getting gifts? It’s awesome. Seriously, what’s not to love about getting cool things from people who care about you? Personally, I love receiving gifts from people. It satisfies my core need for approval and acceptance. Why? Because receiving gifts from people makes me feel as though they truly love, appreciate, and accept me for me.
Before we get into our study today, let me ask you : what’s the best gift you’ve ever received? I remember the best gift ever given to me as a kid was a Nintendo 64, complete with Super Mario 64. Man, I got so many hours and so much enjoyment out of that console.
To this day, I still love receiving gifts. But, if I can be honest with you, as an adult—particularly as a father—I’ve noticed something very interesting: I get way more enjoyment out of giving gifts. No gift I’ve received in adulthood has made me feel like I did when I was a kid, but whenever I give my son or daughter a gift they really want, seeing the excitement and happiness on their faces, feeling the crazy, joyful embrace, and hearing “Thank you! Thank you! Thank you, Daddy!” brings that wonderful, N64-level feeling back for me.
As I think about the reason we celebrate Christmas today, I’m reminded of Matthew 7:11 (NLT), which says, “So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him.” And, man, does our heavenly Father know how to give a gift!
John 3:16 tells us that God gave His only Son so that all those who believe would receive the gift of eternal life. Romans 8:32 (NIV) further elaborates by saying, “He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?” While 2 Corinthians 8:9 (NLT) says, “You know the generous grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. Though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that by his poverty he could make you rich.”
Now, why did He give us this gift? Why did the King of heaven come down and make His dwelling among us? 1 Timothy 1:15 (NLT) tells us, "Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.” In Romans 6:23 (NIV) we’re told plainly, “The wages of sin is death.” This is what we deserve. This is the debt we owe God because of our sin. In sin we stand separated from a holy and perfect God. But our Lord, full of love, grace, and mercy, set a plan in place to bridge that great divide by giving us “the gift of God,” which is “eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” And He achieved this “by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him” (1 John 4:9 NLT).
As Christ followers, we’ve received a gift that will keep on giving forever—a perfect gift that will never get old, never break, never wear out, never be empty, and will never lose its value; the greatest gift the world has ever known. All we have to do is believe. Jesus paid the ultimate, highest price to purchase this gift for us so He could offer it to us freely! That’s why John 3:16 is the most well-known verse in the Bible, because it’s the most powerful and simplest expression of God’s love for us. And guess what? Do you know how God feels every time someone accepts His gift? Jesus tells us in Luke 15:7 (NLT) that there is joy in Heaven over one lost, imperfect sinner who repents and accepts the gift of Jesus!
So, as you get ready to celebrate the birth of Jesus, as you prepare Christmas Eve dinner or get ready to attend church, know that you aren’t the only one celebrating. Be assured that our Father is in heaven celebrating the moment you and I became His children, and know that there will be great rejoicing in heaven as people come to know Him.