An Unexpected Gift is the Best Gift
A Christmas commentary on John 1:1-14 for the 4th Sunday of Advent.
The dust was finally beginning to settle after the Christmas catastrophe that had just taken place. Bright shiny bows were strewn all over the room. Empty boxes boxed us in, and massive mounds of wrapping paper covered everything in sight. The result of this furious frenzy of present opening? A new pile of goodies next to each of the four members of my family. What a Christmas it was!
“Oh, and there’s one more,” my parents slyly stated. “It’s in the closet.” Confused, my sister and I grabbed the box from the front closet. It was simply wrapped in a garbage bag. What good could be in something so meager? We tore it open to see . . . a brand new Playstation video game system! Finally! Atari had come and gone. But I had to play Pong at my friend’s house. Nintendo had come and gone several times over, and I had to go play Super Mario Brothers at my friend’s house. Now, finally, I had my own video game system! I still remember doing victory laps around my house for 20 minutes. That was certainly an unexpected gift, and one of the best I’ve ever received.
I’m sure you have received some wonderful unexpected gifts before—that leather jacket you secretly wanted, the tool you just broke and really needed, the diamond earrings you’ve always desired (guys there’s still time to surprise her with those). It’s often the case that An Unexpected Gift is the Best Gift.
That is the marvel of Christmas for you and for me—not that we get a nice pair of jeans from Kohl’s or that we have a Lexus with a bow on top sitting in our driveway like on the commercials. The real marvel of Christmas is what our God chose to do for us.
Try and fathom—the God who is over all and through all and in all, the God was was in the beginning and who made all things—that God became flesh and made his dwelling among us. How unexpected! That the creator would come to live among the created!
But that is how God has always operated with us, isn’t it? How unexpected that the God of the universe would be lying in a meager manger. How unexpected that the God who deserves our honor and praise lived a humble life of service as the son of a carpenter. How unexpected that the God who made all animals rode on one, a donkey, into Jerusalem the final time.
That’s not even the greatest marvel though. The truly unexpected is not how he lived, but what he did for us. You wouldn’t expect someone to do anything nice for an enemy. You wouldn’t expect someone to do anything nice for a criminal. You wouldn’t expect someone to do anything nice for someone who deserved punishment. Yet God did.
Each of us knows our own imperfections. We all know our flaws and foibles. We know those things we have said that we truly regret, and the things we have done which we wish we could take back. All of us have been dirty, rotten scoundrels in God’s sight, not living up to his standards of perfection. We are all sinners, and we all deserve punishment.
But God chose to do the unexpected. Jesus took on flesh and made his dwelling among us. He came to be a light shining in a sin-darkened world. Though we may be sinners deserving of death, he came to give life. And he did! That too, was unexpected. To think that God would hang on a cross for me! To think that God would carry my sins! To think that God would shed his blood to wipe away my guilt! To think that God would die to freely give me life and forgiveness! To think that we are now considered children of God Most High! Now that is unexpected!
You may receive some very nice and unexpected gifts this year, but focus your heart and your mind on the marvels of God’s love—Jesus come in human flesh to be your Savior. That is the most unexpected gift of all, and that is the best gift of all.