In preparation for
this year's Christmas messages, I came across some very interesting
trivia. For example, last year, American families spent an average of
$740 on Christmas gifts. They will also spend about 18 billion dollars
on alcohol during the Christmas season. Which by the way, accounts for
about 40% of the annual sale of alcohol. 15 million pounds of fruit
cakes are bought during Christmas, of which 6 pounds are actually eaten.
And, 22 million ties are bought.
Now obviously Americans spend a lot of money trying to buy the appropriate
gift. But sometimes the gifts don't match our intentions. I heard about
a husband who asked his wife what she wanted for Christmas. She said
that all she wanted was something that would make her beautiful. So
he gave her a bathroom scale and an exercise bike. Trust me, that was
not the perfect gift.
Today we are going to look at the only perfect Christmas gift. That
is what Paul is talking about in verse 4. Last week we looked at God's
timing in the sending of Jesus. This week we are going to focus on the
Verse 4 has 3 phrases that help us to see why Jesus is God's perfect
gift to us. These 3 phrases deal with Jesus' deity, his humanity, and
his integrity. And as we look at these 3 aspects of Jesus, I want you
to pay close attention. Because the majority of the people in your world
are going to challenge your right to believe & proclaim that Jesus is
the reason for the season. So to be able to remain steadfast in the
face of hostility, you need to have a firm grasp on these 3 basic doctrines.
I want you to know that what you are going to learn this morning will
work. Yesterday, as I was going over the sermon, 2 Jehovah Witnesses
came to my office. When I found out who they were, I told them that
they really didn't want to talk to me because I was the pastor of this
church. They insisted on talking with me anyway. And by the time I finished
sharing with them some of the points of this message, not only were
they speechless, they couldn't get out of here fast enough. So pay close
attention, take good notes, because what the Lord wants to teach us
this morning will work!
So let's first look at how Jesus' deity was part of what made God's
gift so perfect. The phrase that talks about Jesus' deity is in v. 4:
"God sent his son". It has been over 2,000 yrs. since God sent Jesus,
and the number 1
question that people still have about Jesus is: Who is He? The answer
that people come up with will determine their eternal destiny. John
tells us that: "Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever
rejects the Son will not see life, for God's wrath remains on him."
Many people believe that Jesus never existed. Some believe that Jesus
is just like Santa Claus, a fairy tale character that is good for the
economy. What I find so ironic about this position is that even though
they don't believe in either Jesus or Santa, they sure promote the idea
they exist. I doubt very seriously if the people who believe that Jesus
never existed, never buy any Christmas gifts.
I challenge any of you not to celebrate Christmas this year for that
reason. Then on Christmas morning, when your kids are crying because
there are no gifts under the tree, tell them to knock it off because
Jesus is just a fairy tale character that is good for the economy. If
you will take me up on my challenge, I promise to give you one of the
best funerals anybody has ever been to. Trust me, not only will you
break your kids hearts, but they in return will break your legs, your
face, and then they will kill you.
To come to the conclusion that Jesus is just a fairy tale character,
one has to reject all the historical evidence that proves that a man
named Jesus lived in Israel over 2,000 yrs. ago. This is what the Jewish
historian Josephus had to say about Jesus: "Now there was about this
time, Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call him a man, for he was
a doer of wonderful works. He drew over to him both many of the Jews,
and many of the Gentiles. He was the Christ; and when Pilate, at the
suggestion of the principal men amongst us, had condemned him to the
cross, those that loved him at the first did not forsake him, for he
appeared to them alive the third day, as the divine prophets had foretold
these and then thousand other wonderful things concerning him."
To understand who Jesus is, we have to try to understand the doctrine
of the Trinity. The doctrine of the Trinity states that God is one,
but he manifests himself in 3 persons of equal importance: Father, Son
& Holy Spirit. There is no way for us to fully grasp this truth, but
it is a truth that is taught all through the Bible.
One of the most clearest examples of this is in the phrase called the
Shema. During the great feasts of Israel, the Jews would cry out: "Hear,
O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD is one!" (Deuteronomy
6:4) The Hebrew word for "one" that is used here means a unity of
multiples. In reference to God, it means that there is a unity within
the multiple parts that make up the Godhead.
Jesus' favorite titles for himself were the Son of God & the son of
man. Just because Jesus liked to be called son, doesn't make him inferior
to God the Father. The reason he called himself son is because for 33
yrs. he took a submissive role, and followed the instructions of the
Father part of the Godhead. The only reason Jesus did that was to provide
salvation for mankind. So in answer to who Jesus is, the Bible makes
it perfectly clear that Jesus is the second person of the Trinity who
"became flesh, and dwelt among us." (John
Celebrities have to wear disguises in order for them to be able to go
out in public and mingle with the ordinary people. That is exactly what
God did. So when Paul tells us that God sent his son, it is his way
of saying that God slipped into our world by putting on the disguise
of an ordinary person. He came incognito as a little baby. But make
no mistake about it, Jesus is God.
Look at the testimony from the writers of the Bible concerning who Jesus
is: The prophet Isaiah predicted: "Unto us a Child is born, Unto us
a Son is given; And the government will be upon His shoulder. And His
name will be called Mighty God." (Isaiah
9:6) An angel testified to some shepherds that first Christmas day:
"That today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior,
who is Christ the Lord." (Luke
2:11) Jesus made this claim about himself: "If you have seen Me
you have seen the Father." (John
14:9) Jesus' enemies wanted to kill him: "Because He said that God
was His Father, making Himself equal with God." (John
5:18) The apostle Paul, who had been one of the most devout Jews,
said this about Jesus: "Christ, who is God, is to be forever praised!"
But probably the most compelling evidence from the Bible concerning
Jesus' deity is when "Thomas said to Him, 'My Lord and my God!'" (John
20:28) We have to understand that when Thomas made that statement,
he was worshiping Jesus as God. And for a Jew to worship anything other
than God, as god, would be considered blasphemous. Thomas addresses
Jesus by 2 titles that the Jews used exclusively for YHWY: Lord & God.
Thus showing that Thomas believed in Jesus' deity.
The other proof for Jesus' deity is seen when Jesus said to Thomas:
"Because you have seen Me, you have believed." (John
20:29) No Jew would have received the worship that was reserved
exclusively for God. And if Jesus hadn't been God, he would have rebuked
Thomas for regarding him as such.
We see this in several places in the New Testament. Peter refused to
be worshiped by Cornelius. Paul and Barnabas refused to be worshiped
by the people of Lystra. Even the angel in the book of Revelation wouldn't
let John worship him.
But when Thomas said to Jesus, "My Lord and my God," these words did
not elicit a syllable of reproof from Jesus. That is because Jesus knew
he was God. I want to remind you again that it is important for you
to hold fast to this truth. For we are living in a day where we are
being pressured to be more accepting of all religions. In fact, you
will be branded as intolerant, bigoted, and narrow-minded, if you don't
agree with the lie that says that all religions will lead people to
I remember going to a graduation where the person who gave the benediction
started by praying to the Great Spirit above. I expected at any minute
to hear tom-toms starting to beat, and the audience starting to do the
Atlanta Braves tomahawk chop chant. Then he ended his prayer in the
name of all that is good & pure.
I am sure he thought he had just offered a politically correct prayer
that didn't offended anyone. But I want you to know that he offended
me by not starting his prayer to our Father who is heaven. I was also
offended because he didn't close the prayer in the name of our Lord
Jesus Christ. For he is the only one who is good & pure. And I promise
you he offended at least one other person besides me. That kind of prayer
will offend our Creator, who told us that we are to have no other gods
before him. But in this day of tolerance, we are being told we have
to blend all religions into one.
Jesus went to cross proclaiming that he was "The way, the truth, and
the life; and that no one can come to the Father, but through Me." (John
14:6) To prove that his claim was true God raised him from the dead
3 days later. Those who think that's too exclusive will have to take
it up with God when they stand in front of him as the Judge at the Great
White Throne Judgment.
The second reason why Jesus is the perfect gift is because of Jesus'
humanity. Paul tells us in v. 4 that Jesus was "born of a woman." Even
though the Bible doesn't give us much information about Jesus' early
life, it does tell us that he experienced the same trials & tribulations
of life that we do. The writer of Hebrews puts it this way: "For we
do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses,
but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin." (Hebrews
There is no human experience you go through that Jesus didn't experience
first hand. The Bible does tell us that Jesus got tired, he got hungry,
he got thirsty, and he even had to escape the pressures of life every
once and awhile.
It had to have hurt Jesus when the majority of the Jews rejected him.
So he understands what's is like when we are hurt by rejection. He knows
what's it's like to be lonely. After all, his closest friends deserted
him when he needed them the most. And he knows what's it's like to be
so grief stricken that you're moved to tears. So when you are sad, when
your heart is heavy with grief, go to Jesus. Bare your soul to him.
I promise you will find a sympathetic shoulder to cry on.
As a man Jesus experienced all that life can throw at us, just so we
can take our every problem to him knowing that he will willingly listen
to us. And as God, he is able to rescue us from all the problems of
life. But what a price he had to pay in order to do that. Think of it:
Jesus who created the millions of stars, moons, and planets, and who
upholds the very universe by the power of his word, left his throne
of glory to become a man, subject to human limitations, in order to
save us from our sins.
I love to hear stories from missionaries about living in places that
have no MacDonald's, no TV, and even no golf courses. It stirs my heart
to hear them talk about having to live in huts made out of dried cow
manure, with no bathrooms/electricity. It is exciting to hear them talk
about having to sleep with their socks on the outside of their pants
to keep the bugs from crawling up their pant's legs while they sleep.
But do you know what blesses me the most? That is the fact that God
has never called me to go and experience any of these things first hand.
I praise God that he is not like me. He didn't just look down on earth
to observe what was going on from the safe arena of heaven. God experienced
our life first hand by coming to our world as one of us. Paul tells
us that the way God came to the world was that he was born of a woman.
And not a woman of nobility. His parents were plain, simply folks who
struggled to make ends meet. And because of that the King of kings wasn't
born in a fancy palace. His crib didn't have plush sheets in it. His
birth place was a place used exclusively for animals. His crib was used
to feed cattle & sheep. The first smells Jesus enjoyed were urine &
manure. Not the smells of cakes & pies being baked. The kind of smells
you expect if to smell in honor of a king's birth.
Why is it so important that Jesus came to this earth through the vehicle
of a woman's womb? As I stated last week, in the Old Testament, there
are some definite prophecies concerning the ancestry of the Messiah
that must be fulfilled in order for that person to be the Messiah. Two
of those prophecies are that He must be of the house of David (2
Samuel 7:13), and He must have legal right to the throne of David
But this poises a problem. Because in order for Jesus to be sinless,
a requirement for going to the cross, he couldn't have an earthly father.
Because it is through the fathers that sin is passed on to the children.
But in order for Jesus to be the Messiah, he had to be able to claim
that he was of the house of David. Which would give him the legal right
to David's throne. The only way God could resolve this dilemma was through
the virgin birth.
And we see this in the 2 genealogical records given in Matthew & Luke's
gospels. To summarize the 2 genealogies, we see that since Jesus is
the actual son of Mary, who was a direct descendant of David, through
David's son Nathan. Thus he could fulfill God's promise that there would
always be a son of David sitting upon the throne.
And because Jesus, through adoption, became the legal son of Joseph,
he could legally inherit the right to sit on the throne of David. And
since Jesus was not the real son of Joseph, not only did he not inherit
Joseph's sin nature, he also escaped the curse that was put on one of
Joseph's ancestors, Jeconiah (Matthew
1:11): "None of his descendants will sit on the throne of David."
Paul also tells us in v. 4 that Jesus was "born under the law." That
speaks of the integrity of Jesus. God gave a bunch of laws in the Old
Testament. But first he gave us a Reader Digest version of them in the
10 Commandments. And if anyone could keep all 10 of them, they can be
saved. But the problem is that nobody has ever been able to do that.
If I asked you how many of the 10 Commandments you have not broken,
you might be able to say 1 or 2 of them. But all of us have broken at
least 1 of them. And because of that, none of us can ever save ourselves
from the impending penalty for sin. This means we have to find someone,
who doesn't have any sin in their life, who can cleanse us from our
And that presents another problem. For the Bible tells us that "all
have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." (Romans
3:23) That is until Jesus came. Jesus was different. He kept everyone
of God's laws, and not just the 10 Commandments.
In fact, Jesus is the only person who ever successfully overcame Satan's
3 main areas of temptation. Though temptations come in many different
forms, they all stem from "the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes,
and the pride of life." (1
John 2:16) Eve wasn't able to overcome these 3 areas.
When Eve saw that the "Tree was good for food (Lust of the Flesh), and
pleasant to the eyes (Lust of the Eye), and desirable to make one wise
(Pride of Life) that she took of its fruit and ate." (Genesis
Satan tried to tempt Jesus with these 3 same areas. The Bible tells
us that after Jesus was baptized, he went into the wilderness for 40
days, during which he didn't eat anything. And at the end of the 40
days, Satan came and tempted him.
First, Satan tried to get Jesus to turn some stones into bread. In other
words, Satan was tempting Jesus, through the lust of the flesh, to use
his powers to satisfy his physical needs. But Jesus replied to Satan:
"It is written: 'Man does not live on bread alone.'" (Luke
Next Satan took Jesus to a high hill. And he showed Jesus all the kingdoms
of the world. Satan told Jesus that if he would bow down and worship
him, just for a second, not for a lifetime, that he would give him all
those kingdoms. Satan was trying to tempt Jesus, through the lust of
the eyes, hoping to prevent Jesus from going to the cross. Satan knew
that if Jesus were to go to the cross then one day all those kingdoms
would be Jesus'. But Jesus said to Satan, "It is written, 'You shall
worship the Lord your God and serve Him only.'" (Luke
4:8) But Satan didn't give up.
Satan then took Jesus to the top of the temple and tried to get him
to jump off so the angels would catch him. If you think about it, that
would make quite an impression on the people. Sure Jesus would get a
handful of followers by talking about love and serving your fellow man.
But if Jesus really wanted to get a large group of people following
him, then he needed to do something spectacular. Satan was tempting
Jesus, through the pride of life, to put on a good sideshow. But Jesus
once again successfully overcame Satan's temptation by saying to him,
"It is written, 'You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.'"
4:12) Jesus had to resist everyone of Satan's temptations, just
so he could go to the cross.
Now suppose you went out and paid cash for a brand new car. And when
you went to drive it home, you noticed that someone had rear-ended the
car while you were paying for it. And the trunk looked like an accordion.
Even if they fixed the car, it would never be just like it was when
it was first made. It would always be a damaged car.
When God made man, he was perfect. But then Satan came along and he
rear-ended us. And ever since the Fall of man, we have been marred with
sin. And no matter what we try to do to make ourselves look perfect,
we are damaged goods. The only way we can be recreated is through a
perfect man shedding his blood to satisfy God's justice for sin.
That's why in the Old Testament, God required that the animals that
were to be used as sacrifices had to be without any kind of defect.
They couldn't even have a scratch on their body. He did this so we would
recognize when Jesus, the perfect Lamb of God, who came to take away
our sins, came to our world. Jesus was God's perfect gift because he
lived a life without flaw.
It's funny how we respond to different Christmas gifts. A child can
give a grandparent a handmade card created with crayons and construction
paper. And that simple gift can move a person to tears because of the
spirit in which it's given. That's because a gift is valuable, not in
terms of how much it cost, but in the spirit in which it was given.
Gifts given out of a sense of love and gratitude are usually received
with joy. But gifts given out of obligation or given thoughtlessly are
received with indifference, no matter how valuable they are in terms
of monetary value. In fact, Carol & I still have every Christmas gift
made by our grandchildren.
When God gave us Jesus Christ, he had only one motive: love. And one
thought: giving a gift that would last for eternity. Jesus told us about
both of these aspects of our heavenly Father when he said: "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
In conclusion, I want to remind you that in a few months from now most
of the gifts you buy this Christmas will be forgotten. The thrill of
the newness of them will be lost. And probably some of them will be
thrown away because they got broke.
So rather than focusing on the gifts, let me encourage you to celebrate
the perfect gift of Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ really is the only perfect
gift because once you meet him, you will never forget him. And you will
never lose the thrill of knowing him. But greatest of all, Jesus will
So each time you pay for a gift this Christmas, think about the price
God paid in order that he could give you the gift of salvation. As you
wrap those gifts, think about God's gift of Jesus, the incarnate God,
coming to this earth wrapped in flesh. And as you receive your Christmas
gifts, be reminded that all you have to do to be saved is to receive
the greatest gift of all, God's son, the Lord Jesus Christ.
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