The Best Christmas Giftwritten by Jimmy Newkirk, Associate Pastor (December 24, 2023)
The best Christmas gift we ever gave was a photograph. The photograph was in a simple 4x6” frame, but it came with a promise. The promise and picture were of our soon-to-be daughter, Breanna.
We hadn’t met her yet and all we had was a tiny, thumbnail photo which we enlarged and printed to give to our families. In each case, when the gift was opened, there was a confused look. They wondered, “Why are you giving us a picture frame?” In their minds, the portrait was just a stock photo that came with the frame.
We explained, “We’re not giving you a frame; we’re giving you a little girl … this little girl." God had laid it on our hearts to bring her into our forever family. God blessed our family as we fell in love with a child, even before we met her.
But God gave us an even better Christmas gift that also came with a promise. He gave us a Savior, a Savior of whom He had painted a picture through promises in His Scriptures even before the world got to meet Him.
Before Jesus was born in Bethlehem, God promised to send:
- One to defeat sin and evil,
- One to suffer and die for us,
- One who would pay for our sin as a sinless, perfect sacrifice,
- One who would defeat death for us,
- One who's kingdom would last forever,
- One who would escort us into a forever home with a forever family.
These promises and many more were fulfilled in the person of Jesus Christ, even though the promises were not always understood at the time they were given. (John MacArthur cites roughly 330 prophecies about Jesus in the Bible with about 110 referring to His first coming. Just a few examples include: Genesis 3:15, 2 Sam. 7:16; Psalm 2, 22, and 110; Isaiah 7, 9, 11, 42, 53, and 61.) God stepped into His own creation to bring righteousness into the world … to redeem a people for Himself. Titus 2:11-14 reminds us,
"For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, instructing us to deny godlessness and worldly lusts and to live in a sensible, righteous, and godly way in the present age, while we wait for the blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ. He gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to cleanse for himself a people for his own possession, eager to do good works.
After we met Breanna, we were allowed to spend some time with her over the next few weeks during periodic visits and phone calls. Our visits and calls were cherished but way too short. Then, one very special day, she came home to live with us, together, face to face, as one united family.
I'm sure that those who spent time with Jesus here on earth thought that their time was quite insufficient. But, just as our family was brought together here, God is bringing together His family, one at a time, to be with Him forever in heaven.
Today, as we celebrate Christmas, we can reflect on God’s best gift: a Child, born in a manger in all humility. Though we have not seen Him in person yet, He is pictured and promised in days of old, but bringing new life today to all who will hear. We may indeed have a Merry Christmas because of God's gift, Emmanuel, God is with us!