I remember many Christmases where Jesus is not all I wanted. I would make a Christmas wish list for my parents. Having a December birthday often worked in my favor. Because I learned to haggle. So ma, I’d like to ask for something that can count for both my birthday AND Christmas this year. You see, the Nintendo Gamecube is coming out…I’d like to get the whole system for my birthday and Christmas this year….And Usually these requests worked in my favor, though not always.
In my household growing up, there was usually one very special gift. Usually saved for the end. In a big box. It was the greatest gift given that day. It was a special expression of love.
In the same way, God has given us the most special gift he could ever give. It didn’t come wrapped in special wrapping paper. It came wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger. This was God’s greatest gift and the highest expression of his love and care for you. Just as a parent’s joy is to give expressions of their love, it was God’s joy to send his son to show you his great love for you.
I want us to meditate on how loving it was for God to send us the greatest gift of his son.
“Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. 31 You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High.
Jesus- From the book of Matthew we know this means the Lord Saves. He will save his people from their sins.
Our sins are many. Our sins often feel more powerful than ourselves. We need a savior who will forgive our sins and defeat the power of sin itself.
We are mortal and we need someone who can defeat the power of the grave. Something no one, no matter how powerful life they were, had ever done.
As they say in sports, Father Time is undefeated. Who can save us from the power of death? Only a savior who can bring life.
We cannot save ourselves from our guilt, from the power of sin, from the grave, or from eternal judgment. In our great need, God sent a savior. He sent a lifeboat. When you were drowning, He threw a life saver.
Other religions and religious leaders say, here is what the god, or the gods, or the universe expects you to do to be saved. Go and ahead and do it. You better do enough if you hope to be saved. In Christianity, God says you cannot save yourself, but I love you and I will save you. I will give you the gift of my son to be your savior.
In Jesus, God gives us the gift of a savior. Can you see why this is God’s greatest gift?
31 You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High.
But Gabriel says of Jesus that he will simply be GREAT. By nature he will be GREAT.
In a status-based society, this is a big deal. There is no one with higher status than Jesus.
In Jesus, God gave the greatest person to ever walk this Earth. Can you see why this is God’s greatest gift to you?
He will be called the Son of the Most High.
This means He is the Son of God. Now in this passage, we don’t have all the Trinitarian ways of understanding how the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are co-equal persons of the one Triune God. Of course, that’s true, but its not what the angel is getting at.
The one being born to Mary is the Messiah or in Greek, the Christ. The anointed one. The chosen one. The one whom God has promised to deliver his people. Now in Jesus, all of the promises and prophecies of the Old Testament will be fulfilled. God will be proven faithful and true. Jesus will fulfill his divine role of saving and delivering God’s people. The time is finally here.
In Jesus, God has given us the promised Messiah. Can you see why this is God’s greatest gift?
32-33 “and the Lord God will give him the throne of his father David.
He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and his kingdom will have no end.”
The baby to be born will be a king over Israel.
His kingdom will have no end. but the king himself will reign forever. His reign shall never come to an end. Absolutely shocking and unique.
2 Chron– this king rose to power, he did this and that, some good, some bad, he reigned for this many years, everything else he did is written in the record books, and then he want to rest with his ancestors.
There had never been a king who would reign forever. There had never been a kingdom that never ended. There has never been a political leader in power forever. Kingdoms have risen and fallen continually throughout history.
In Jesus, God has given us an eternal king with an eternal kingdom. Can you see why this is God’s greatest gift?
Furthermore, It critically matters that his rule and his kingdom are eternal, because God desires to give you more. He desires to give you eternal life.
“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.”
God gave his Son so that you could have eternal life. An eternal king with an eternal kingdom given so you could have eternal life, all because God so greatly loves you.
In Jesus, God has given you eternal life. Can you see why this is God’s greatest gift?
Mary is essentially told all these wonderful things about the baby who is going to be born in her.
34 “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin? 35 The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.
The language here is reminiscent of what happened at the end of the book of Exodus.
Moses finally completes the building of the Tabernacle and something spectacular happens.
Exodus 40 34 The cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. 35 Moses was unable to enter the tent of meeting because the cloud rested on it, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle.
The glory of God’s powerful and manifest presence is going to rest on Mary in the same way God’s glory filled the tabernacle.
In Jesus, God has given you the greatest miracle of all.
A virgin giving birth. A King becoming a Slave. God becoming man.
Can you see why this is God’s Greatest Gift?
This is the Greatest Gift God has ever given.
We’re so used to the Christmas story, but its for our spiritual good that the church calls us to this annual meditation upon these truths.
Don’t lose the wonder, the greatness, the magnificence of the best gift God has ever given.
When Mary is told by the angel all that is going to happen to her, she gives this amazing response:
38 “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.”
Forever Mary is remembered as someone who submitted her life to the extraordinary and unique call God had her on life.
Friends, we too have received this amazing gift of God’s grace in Jesus. Our response ought to be like Mary’s.
She essentially says two things:
First, “I am the Lord’s Servant.” I simply want to remind you this morning that the greatest commands in the Bible are to love God with all we have and to love our neighbor as ourselves. We serve the Lord by loving him and loving others. As we receive God’s love in Jesus, my prayer is that this would be a gift the Holy Spirit pours out into your heart so that it changes you from the inside out. Then by God’s grace we would be like the Grinch or Scrooge at the end of those stories, joyfully showing love others. I pray we would be so gripped by the love God has shown us, that we would joyfully respond in love for God and love for others.
Second: “May your word to me be fulfilled.”
God may your promise to me be fulfilled. This is the attitude of confident trust and waiting. This is believing God at his word. Submission to God’s plan and will for one’s life.
May your word to me be fulfilled. I believe you God. I trust you God. I surrender my life to your plan for me.
Let’s ultimately what we are call called to do in response to his great gift. I am Lord’s servant and I surrender my life to you.
On Christmas morning this week, may you remember the Greatest Gift God has ever given. Not wrapped in paper, but in swaddling clothes in the manger. God’s gift of love to you.