Not Just Another Gift

Luke 1 and 2

The Real Focus – Consider the Gift!

At the countdown to Christmas, let us focus on what is really most important.  Too many, including many Christians, miss it by way of their actions and attitudes.  The Gospel of Luke points us to this goal as it challenges us to consider the gift.

The Wrapping

Luke 2:12 – And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.”

This Child, this gift you are to look for, will not be surrounded by external splendor and outward glitter and glory, but instead by common wrappings.

The Trimmings

Luke 2:13-14 – And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying:  “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men!”

Loud heavenly choruses announce this gift of God’s peace.  But do not miss where the choruses resound; not at the manger scene but in the distance fields where the shepherds are gathered.  At the manger, the trimmings are virtually non-existent and quite ordinary.

The Tag

Luke 1:30-31 – Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus.

This name, Jesus, is no accident.  The full name in Hebrew is a sentence name:  “Yahweh” or Lord saves!”

The Contents

Luke 1:32-33 – He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.”

  • His excelling greatness!
  • His absolute exaltation!
  • His supreme power!
  • His eternal reign
  • His perpetual kingdom!

The Purpose

Luke 2:29-32 – Lord, now You are letting Your servant depart in peace, according to Your word;   For my eyes have seen Your salvation which You have prepared before the face of all peoples, a light to bring revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of Your people Israel.”

To bring salvation to all peoples, including the Gentiles!  This gift is available to all, the invitation is to everyone, but the benefits are only for those who will act.

The Conclusion – Unwrap the Gift

The gift of Jesus Christ is God’s present to you.  Simply acknowledging the gift exists, or simply noting its presence does nothing for you personally.  You must unwrap the gift.  If you have, why not share the gift with others?

The Unexpected

Matthew 2:1-23

Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him.”

When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born.

So they said to him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for thus it is written by the prophet:

‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
Are not the least among the rulers of Judah;
For out of you shall come a Ruler
Who will shepherd My people Israel.’ ”

Then Herod, when he had secretly called the wise men, determined from them what time the star appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the young Child, and when you have found Him, bring back word to me, that I may come and worship Him also.”

When they heard the king, they departed; and behold, the star which they had seen in the East went before them, till it came and stood over where the young Child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceedingly great joy. And when they had come into the house, they saw the young Child with Mary His mother, and fell down and worshiped Him. And when they had opened their treasures, they presented gifts to Him: gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

Then, being divinely warned in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed for their own country another way.

Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream, saying, “Arise, take the young Child and His mother, flee to Egypt, and stay there until I bring you word; for Herod will seek the young Child to destroy Him.”

When he arose, he took the young Child and His mother by night and departed for Egypt, and was there until the death of Herod, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying, “Out of Egypt I called My Son.”

Then Herod, when he saw that he was deceived by the wise men, was exceedingly angry; and he sent forth and put to death all the male children who were in Bethlehem and in all its districts, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had determined from the wise men. Then was fulfilled what was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet, saying:

“A voice was heard in Ramah,
Lamentation, weeping, and great mourning,
Rachel weeping for her children,
Refusing to be comforted,
Because they are no more.”

Now when Herod was dead, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, saying, “Arise, take the young Child and His mother, and go to the land of Israel, for those who sought the young Child’s life are dead.” Then he arose, took the young Child and His mother, and came into the land of Israel.

But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning over Judea instead of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. And being warned by God in a dream, he turned aside into the region of Galilee. And he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, “He shall be called a Nazarene.”

Unexpected Circumstances and Events

Unexpected place of birth – Bethlehem.   Mary and Joseph lived in Nazareth.  God used a Roman government to get them to the right place for Jesus’ birth.   Romans 8:28.

Romans 8:28 – And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.

Unexpected question – “Where is he that is born King of the Jews?”  They thought they could find the answer in the king’s house.  (Can the world find Jesus in His house – the Christian – today?)

John 1:10-11 – He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. 11 He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him.

Unexpected disturbance – Herod and religious leaders all disturbed. 

He had not come as they expected.

His coming threaten their authority.

Unexpected commission – “search diligently for the young child.”  The wise men (the world) were forced to seek for Jesus themselves because his own people (the church) did not know where he was. 

Matthew 13:15 – For the hearts of this people have grown dull.  Their ears are hard of hearing, and their eyes they have closed, lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, lest they should understand with their hearts and turn, so that I should heal them.

Unexpected sign – the star once again appeared to them.   They had searched diligently, had come to the king’s house.  They had done all they could do.  Yet, God once again sent the star. 

Deuteronomy 4:29 – But from there you will seek the Lord your God, and you will find Him if you seek Him with all your heart and with all your soul.

Jeremiah 29:13 – And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.

 Unexpected King – in a simple house with simple parents.  Although this was not what they had expected, they bowed down and worshipped him.         God’s   ways are not our ways. 

1 Corinthians 1:26-31 – For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called. But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, that no flesh should glory in His presence. But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God—and righteousness and sanctification and redemption—that, as it is written, “He who glories, let him glory in the Lord.”

Unexpected Danger

Herod plotted to find Jesus.  God warned the Wise Men in a dream.  God will protect those who seek him and obey him. 

2 Chronicles 16:9 – For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him. In this you have done foolishly; therefore from now on you shall have wars.

Psalm 34:7 – The angel of the Lord encamps all around those who fear Him, and delivers them.

Isaiah 41:10 – Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you,
yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.

2 Timothy 4:18 – And the Lord will deliver me from every evil work and preserve me for His heavenly kingdom. To Him be glory forever and ever. Amen

Herod attempted to kill Jesus.  Again, God warned Joseph to flee in a dream.  God continued to lead Joseph in his efforts to be a protecting earthly father to Jesus. 

Psalm 31:23 – Oh, love the Lord, all you His saints!  For the Lord preserves the faithful, and fully repays the proud person…

Psalm 37:5 – Commit your way to the Lord, trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass.

Proverbs 3:5 – Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding.

1 John 2:17 – And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.

Herod’s son reigned after his father.  Again, God gave Joseph guidance.

Psalm 48:14 – For this is God, Our God forever and ever; He will be our guide even to death.

Palms 73:24 – You will guide me with Your counsel, and afterward receive me to glory.

Isaiah 30:21 –  Your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” Whenever you turn to the right hand or whenever you turn to the left.