What do you love about Christmas? From my early childhood, my first loves were the gifts under the tree for me and the rest of the family. In time, I learned to love other parts of the season—special Christmas television specials and cartoons, decorating the tree, putting out special items around the house, helping my dad string lights outside, reading all the greeting cards, gathering with extended family, the large meal. And mother’s homemade chocolates! But the gifts under the tree were central.
For years, those gifts were the highlights of Christmas. But since Christ came into my life, gifts under the tree, as well as other Christmas accoutrements, have come to mean far less. I still enjoy those things, but they’ve been superseded by another Christmas gift that now occupies the highest place in my heart—the gift who is Jesus. Here are some special things to treasure about Jesus, the greatest gift.
His presence. There is nothing so sweet as the intimate closeness of Christ in His incarnation. Ever since Jesus came to earth, none of us can think of Him as distant. He has come near to us, He is Immanuel. He is with us. And in His presence are joys forevermore.
His understanding. Coming in human form, Jesus our Saviour brings to His own person all the troubles, trials and temptations we can experience in order that He might feel them and their weight as we do. Just when you might dare whisper, “No one cares, no one understands,” call to mind the scriptures that reveal that Jesus does care and He does understand.
His obedience. Not only did Christ come to identify with our temptations, He came, wonderfully, to overcome in them for our benefit, never succumbing to their pressure to disobey or doubt. He always followed the Word, always pleased the Father. And so now He stands as our perfect surety against our condemnation in every weakness and sin we commit. What a gift!
His death. Deserving punishment, the thought of death brought us terrible fear. Who can stand in God’s holy presence? No one. No one that is except Jesus, who obeyed in all aspects and who gave Himself up as our substitute in our judgment. He was cursed so we will never be. He was despised, rejected, and died, so that we might be received, embraced and live.
His life. Now believing on Him, we live. And we live in Him. All He carried out, we are united in. And so when Christ stepped from the grave in victory, ascended into the heavenlies and took the honoured place in glory, we through our union with Him share in that same glorious life of victory. Death holds no grip. And sufferings in this life are only passing and preparatory for the eternal life that is really living we’ll enjoy in the presence of our great God and Saviour Jesus Christ.
This year at Christmas, our family will enjoy our own special traditions, including some new ones like viewing the lights on Oxford Street. And we’ll exchange gifts. Those things will be special and delightful. But the greatest gift we’ll share together and among our church family is the inexpressible joy we know in the gift of Jesus. May God renew and increase your love for Jesus this Christmas!