There have been years on which Christmas Eve was my best day of Christmas shopping—not because it was the best of several good days, but because it was my only day! Covid-19 put me a little ahead this year, because I purchased my gifts online.
I love giving to Terrie, our children, and our grandchildren. But as we approach Christmas this week, I'm mindful of the fact that Christmas itself is a gift. Christmas is when we received Emmanuel—God with us!
And with Jesus' very presence, He gives us gifts:
1. He Saves Us
The ultimate gift of Christmas is salvation. It is the reason Jesus came—to die on the cross for our sins, in our place, and give us a relationship with God through Christ.
Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift.—2 Corinthians 9:15
If you can rejoice in nothing else this season, you can rejoice in your Savior!
If you have not yet received Christ as your Saviour, you can! (Click here to learn what the Bible says about how you can have a relationship with God.)
2. He Understands Us
When my son Larry was younger, I took him outside one day to teach him how to play basketball. I would shoot and show him the techniques, then hand him the ball. He was still young, and he struggled to get the ball to the rim. Finally, after I made another shot, Larry said, “Yeah, Dad, it's easy for you up there, but you don't know what it's like for me down here!”
He had a good point.
Sometimes we repeat Larry's words to our Heavenly Father. “God, it's easy for You to say what we should do and what we should be, but You don't know what these circumstances are like from down here!”
Christmas proves otherwise.
And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.—John 1:14
God does know what it is like for us down here. He came in person, wrapped in a tiny human body. He lived among us, experiencing human life from our perspective and through our limitations. He knows the trials we go through; He understands the pressures we feel. He is Emmanuel—God with us.
Have you ever longed for someone who could understand how you feel? Someone who has experienced what you are going through?
Jesus is that Someone.
3. He Helps Us
Scenic Christmas cards and softly glowing lights seem to suggest that this is a season of perfect nostalgia—a time when everyone can rest and reflect in the midst of unified relationships as they make family memories. But reality says otherwise. Real people live lives fraught with loss, pain, and brokenness.
That's why Jesus came.
Jesus didn't come to a perfect world, and He wasn't born in a perfect setting. He came to a dark world—steeped in sin and riddled with discord and pain. He was born into abject poverty and grew up under the strain of political oppression. Christmas reminds us that this fallen world will never be perfect.
Remember though—this is God. He didn't have to come. He didn't have to endure this. And He definitely didn't have to give His life for our sins.
He chose to come. He chose to leave the splendor of Heaven to dwell amongst the squalor of men. He chose to live with us, to know us, to love us. He chose to die for us.
And now, He reminds us that He stands ready to help us. Because He is Emmanuel—God with us—we never have to face another need alone. We have God on our side.
What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?—Romans 8:31
Christ's presence wasn't just for Mary and Joseph and the shepherds as they worshiped Him in the manger. It was for us, too. As the eternal God, Christ has promised, “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee” (Hebrews 13:5).
4. He Changes Us
The presence of Christ in our lives is more than a stirring sentiment; it is a radical life change.
From the moment Gabriel announced to Mary that she would carry the Christ child in her womb all the way to the piercing cry of a hungry newborn, Christ's presence changed life for everyone on that first Christmas.
All throughout Christ's ministry, He changed lives. He gave sight to the blind, hearing to the deaf, words to the mute, strength to the lame, healing to the lepers, and even life to the dead. He fed the hungry and comforted the hurting. He taught words of life, and He lived with grace and compassion. He rebuked the proud and forgave the repentant. Everywhere Christ went, He brought change—not always change in circumstances but change in lives.
Then He did the ultimate—He gave His life, bearing in His body the sins of all mankind. And when He rose from the dead three days later, He proved that He has the power to change lives to the fullest extent. When we trust Him as our Savior, receiving His gift of eternal life, He changes us—from the inside out.
Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.—2 Corinthians 5:17
But the change Christ's presence brings doesn't end at salvation. We have the opportunity to daily experience His changing presence in our lives. From the moment we trust Christ as our Saviour, His presence can begin to change us. He can change our fear to courage, our worry to trust, our pride to humility, our selfishness to love, our bitterness to forgiveness, and our despair to hope.
These changes don't happen in an instant. That's why we need to rely on His presence daily. As we walk with Him and grow in Him, He changes us.
Enjoy the Gift
Take time to enjoy Christ's presence this Christmas.
For many of us, it will be an unusual Christmas—perhaps a lonelier Christmas. But we have the gift of Jesus.
Remember He is Emmanuel—God with us. He understands your needs. He even understands you. And He is a very present help.
Christ's presence actually is a present. It is the reason that Christmas is a gift!