I remember as a child how difficult it was to wait for Christmas to arrive. At least, because of our Scandinavian roots, I didn’t have to wait until Christmas morning. We celebrated Christmas on Christmas Eve. Our time around the tree, though, was agonizingly postponed as supper was dragged out, and then the washing and drying dishes. It seemed like it took forever! Much of the excitement over receiving a gift is in the anticipation while you wait. Sometimes you don’t receive what you are expecting, and, of course, are greatly disappointed. Even when you do get the gift you hoped for, the excitement wanes once you have received it. If it is a toy, you get tired of playing with it, or the batteries run down or it breaks, or maybe it was even defective or, if something that had to be assembled, was missing parts. When our family was here for Christmas a couple years ago, our grandson received a rocket which he was really excited to assemble and go out in the field and try. The problem was, it didn’t come with the needed launch pad or fuel. Those had to be purchased separately, but it didn’t mention that on the box.
How much like real life. Things are often not quite what they are advertised to be. Even when “the parts are all there,” the excitement of having them is usually short-lived and then we start looking toward something else to bring us satisfaction. Kind of like a child sitting under the Christmas tree, surrounded by piles of paper and opened gifts, saying, “Is that all there is? Aren’t there more gifts?” It seems that the greatest excitement comes in the anticipation, rather than in the possession.
Well, imagine waiting for a gift for centuries! God had promised, way back in Genesis that He would send a Deliverer to save us from our sin. As He addressed Satan through the serpent, note what He prophesied: “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head and you shall bruise him on the heel” (Gen. 3:15). From that time on, we see the promise becoming more and more specific as to the “seed of the woman.” After Cain killed his brother, Abel, Eve gave birth to Seth (Gen. 4:25), which means “the appointed one.” She very likely thought this might be the one God had promised. But mankind would have to wait for several thousand more years for fulfillment of the prophecy. God chose a man, Abram, through whom He would develop a “chosen nation,” and through whom the promised “seed of the woman” would come. God made a covenant with Abram saying, “And I will make you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great, and so you shall be a blessing; and I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse. And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed” (Gen. 12:2,3). God repeated that covenant to Abram’s son Isaac, and to Isaac’s son Jacob, whose name was changed to “Israel,” and whose 12 sons became heads of the tribes of Israel. Then God chose Jacob’s son, Judah, as the one through whom the royal line would come, resulting eventually in the birth of the “King of the Jews,” the promised Messiah.
After the progressive revelation in the Old Testament, we have a silent period of 400 years when mankind did not hear from God. Talk about how hard it is to wait! Finally an angel of the Lord, Gabriel, was sent to a priest, Zacharias, to announce that his wife, Elizabeth, was to give birth to a son whose name was to be called “John” (Lk. 1:13). He would become the “forerunner” of the promised Messiah, helping people prepare their hearts for His coming (Lk. 1:16-18). In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, Gabriel was sent to give the virgin Mary, Elizabeth’s cousin, the amazing news that she too was going to conceive, as a virgin, and give birth to a son, whose name was to be “Jesus” (“the LORD is salvation”). “He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David; and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever; and His kingdom will have no end” (Lk. 1: 32,33). Finally, after all the years of waiting, God sent His gift to man, His Son, Jesus Christ, to save people from their sins (Mt. 1:21). The Apostle Paul, in writing of God’s timing in sending His “Gift,” said: “But when the fullness of the time came (at just the right time), God sent forth His Son, born of a woman (the ‘seed of a woman,’ i.e, a virgin birth), born under the Law, in order that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons” (Gal. 4:4,5).
The long, long anticipated “gift” from God had come. Unfortunately, many did not recognize who He was, or accept the purpose for which He came. John wrote, “He came to His own (the Jews), and those who were His own did not receive Him” (Jn. 1:11). They were disappointed because it wasn’t “the gift” they were expecting. They were looking for someone to free them from oppression to Rome and set up His kingdom right then and there. They weren’t looking for a “suffering” Messiah who came to die for sin. But there were those who did believe in Him and allowed Him to “rule” in their hearts. John went on to write: “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name” (Jn. 1:12).
In contrast to all the temporal things the world has to offer which soon lose their glamour and attraction, God’s gift to us is truly the “Gift which keeps on giving.” This is the “Perfect Gift” which will never lose its attractiveness, never wear out, never need new batteries, never break, never become obsolete as new, better models come out. Jesus, God the Son, is the inexhaustible source of joy and purpose and satisfaction to all who receive Him. Everything we could possibly ever need or want is available in a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, and once He is invited into our life, He will never leave us or forsake us (Heb. 13:5). In this case the possession brings even more satisfaction than the anticipation. Oh, there will still be anticipation, for, we have yet to see all the things He has prepared for us in the future: “Things which eye has not seen and ear has not hear, and which have not entered the heart of man, all that God has prepared for those who love Him” (I Cor. 2:9). As believers, within us we have Christ “who is able to do exceeding abundantly, according to the power that works within us” (Eph. 3:20). Now that’s something to get excited about! “Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!” (II Cor. 9:15). Have you received God’s Gift? Have you “opened the package” that God sent? We do so by simply admitting our lost condition due to sin, and acknowledging by faith, that Jesus, as the God-man, paid for our sins, rose again from the grave and offers eternal life to all who will receive Him (Jn. 3:16).