For most of us, especially the children, the central activity of Christmas is giving and receiving gifts. We spend hours considering what to give, making and/or buying gifts, wrapping gifts, a few short seconds opening gifts, and then a few more hours returning the shirt that doesn’t fit, the socks that don’t match, or setting up the new electronics or trying to figure out how to put together toys without using a manual.
The precedent for exchanging gifts at Christmas was set early on. The Magi arrived from the east bearing gifts. They brought to the Christ child gold, frankincense and myrrh. They gave gifts that were thoughtful, appropriate and costly. But the real precedent setter was God himself who gave the first Christmas gift, the most valuable Christmas gift, the most costly Christmas gift and the greatest Christmas gift when he gave us his son.
As Jesus became a man he bridged the gap between God and man. This is key in our salvation because we need someone to bridge that gap. In our sin we have been separated from God. When Jesus came he crossed that gap. If he had not been fully human he would not have completely crossed the gap. If he would not have been fully God his birth would have been meaningless for us. But we “hail the incarnate deity” who has made it possible for us to enter into relationship with God Almighty.
Jesus came for us: He came to deliver us from sin. His mercy is not just in understanding and empathizing, but in deliverance. We don’t have go on without hope. We don’t have to go on without joy and peace. We don’t have to go on in loneliness. He comes to our side. He walks alongside us. He forgives us and removes our guilt. He is the “Savior, Christ the Lord.” We need a savior.
The shepherds were the first to hear the good news announced by the angelic host. They were the poor outcasts of society. They were in need of Jesus. He came for them.
But he came for us all. 23 times in Luke’s first two chapters the Greek words for “all” or “entire” or “every” are used. Jesus is not just the savior of the Jews or the shepherds, he is the savior of the world.
Therefore, since Christ shared with us, we must also share with others. It is a denial of Christmas to keep it all for ourselves. There is no greater feeling than giving a gift that is just what someone needed. There is no greater gift than the gift of salvation. Share Jesus with someone this Christmas. He is just what we all need. Let’s follow the example of the shepherds who came to see Jesus, then went to tell others.