Many of us wonder what God is like. We’ve looked at flowers, snowflakes, hummingbirds and rainbows and realized that God must be very smart and very powerful. The things He’s made are amazing! And when people eat an apple pie, sit by a warm fire on a cold day, or listen to musical instruments, they realize that all those wonderful things are made possible by God, and so He must also be very kind.
But knowing God through what He’s made is somewhat like knowing an artist only through his paintings. How much more could you learn about that artist if you could actually meet him in person and be friends for a few years?
God wants us to know Him personally. And not just through what He has created. That is one reason that God sent Jesus to the earth. We read today, “No one has ever seen God. But his only Son, who is himself God, is near to the Father’s heart; he has told us about him” (John 1:18). Nobody knew God the Father better than Jesus. They had lived together.
Not only did Jesus know more than anyone else about God the Father, He also acted more like God the Father than anyone else. Have you ever heard the expression, “Like father, like son”? That was certainly true concerning Jesus and His Father. Jesus once said, “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father!” (John 14:9). If we want to learn what God the Father is like, all we have to do is learn about Jesus. We read today, “Everything about [Jesus] represents God exactly” (Heb. 1:3). If God, the Father, had become a human being instead of Jesus, He would have said and done the same things.
Before Jesus came, there were only two ways to learn about God: through looking at His creation, and through studying the words of the people who wrote the Old Testament. Some of those people had experiences with God from which we can learn, and some of them (the prophets) actually spoke God’s words. But ever since Jesus came, we now have three ways to learn about God! As we study the life and ministry of Jesus in the weeks ahead, we’ll be learning about God, the creator of everything, a person with whom we’ll be friends forever. What could be more exciting than that?
Jesus became a human being so our sins could be forgiven, as we just read: “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” (1 Timothy 1:15).
Why did Jesus have to come into the world in order for sinners to be saved? If God wanted to forgive sinners, why didn’t He just do it from heaven? Why did God have to become a human being?
To answer those questions, we first have to understand something about God. He is perfect. He always does the right thing, and it wouldn’t be right for God to simply forgive people who continually do bad and evil things. What would you think of your parents if they never punished a brother or sister who beat you up every day? You would think that they didn’t love you and weren’t fair.
If God didn’t punish people when they did bad things, He would be unloving toward people who were hurt by other people’s sins. And He would be acting unfairly. So God couldn’t just decide not to punish people for their sins, or He would become a sinner Himself!
However, God loves the people He’s created, and He needed a way to forgive them without becoming a bad person Himself. So God decided to become a human being who would face every temptation that anyone ever faced. He, however, would never sin. Then, as a substitute, He would take the punishment for everyone’s sins! As an example: Perhaps you were about to be spanked for disobeying your mother or father, and your sister or brother volunteered to be spanked in your place! (Pretty slim chance of that happening, right?)
That is why God had to become a human being. God, of course, can’t die, but humans can. So God became a human being in order to die. And His painful death was the payment for our sins. Jesus Himself said, “I…came here…to give my life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45). A ransom is a payment to set free someone who is a prisoner. Jesus gave His life as a payment to God’s justice so He could set us free from our sins.
The Gifts from God to Finish Unwrapping:
- Unwrap the Gift of His Love.
Have you pulled off the wrapping of the love of Christ and accepted Him as your Savior? If you haven’t, that’s the first step in unwrapping what God has given us. I’m so grateful that Christ loved us so much that He wants to take us to Heaven to be with Him, but I love the fact that His love sustains us here on earth. Every day I wake up I find the love of Christ.
The love of Christ is one of those gifts that we share with others too. Talk about the gift that keeps on giving!
“And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God” (Ephesians 3:19)
Nothing can take that gift of love away from us either.
“Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:39)
- Unwrap the Gift of Grace
Another thing we can unwrap is the gift of grace. Through Christ we have access to that wonderful grace that’s given to us. Not a gift we deserve but because of Christ we can have it.
“Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God” (Romans 5:1-2)
“But not as the offence, so also is the free gift. For if through the offence of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many” (Romans 5:15)
“That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:7)
- Unwrap the Gift of the Resurrection
This is one of those gifts that it’s worth getting excited about. Without the resurrection of Christ, we have nothing.
“And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins” (1 Corinthians 15:17)
When we unwrap this and dwell on it awhile and really think about how much it does for us as Christians, it makes you want to shout, jump up and down, or maybe even do a cartwheel or two!
“O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:56-57)
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” (1 Peter 1:3)
- Unwrap the Gift of Inheritance
Because of Christ, we can become heirs of God. What a gift! To know that we are the children of God.
That passage in 1 Peter 1 goes on to say:
“To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you” (1 Peter 1:4)
“The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together” (Romans 8:16-17)
- Unwrap the Gift of His Word
When we rip off the wrapping paper and find the Word, it’s one of those gifts that never runs out, never wears out, and never gets old. Don’t you love that? Every day we can find new things in it just for us to give us strength, sharpen us, build us up, and even rebuke us, but it’s something that the Lord knew we needed.
I hope the Lord doesn’t find me throwing His gift of the Word down or never getting it out to use. It’s a precious gift to us.
“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord” (Colossians 3:16)
There’s just so much that we are given through the gift of Christ. The ones I listed are just some of the things we gain with a life in Christ. It’s like there’s this big tree with the bottom piled high with gifts and all the branches bulging with gifts nestled in just for us. We have wonderful and precious promises, strength, the Holy Spirit, peace, joy, and on and on just because of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Most of us don’t leave our gifts unwrapped under the tree. We want to see what’s inside. Maybe we should spend more time in the Word and in prayer finding those things that the Lord would have for us.
Have you unwrapped all of your presents? God has not finished with giving. Keep looking for the gifts throughout the year and not just during the Christmas season.