Jesus Is the Best Gift

One morning I was reading an advent devotional by Louie Giglio, and was reminded that this season is all about Jesus. His birth and what a gift He is to us! My children were discussing the gifts the Magi gave to Jesus, and it got us to research the presents and their meaning, and it blew me away! Join me as we dive into the background surrounding Jesus’ birth, the thoughtful gifts given to Jesus by the Magi, and our own opportunity to be adopted by God.

Luke 2 (NIV)

The Birth of Jesus

“In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to their own town to register.

So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,

14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven,
    and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”

16 So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. 17 When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.

21 On the eighth day, when it was time to circumcise the child, he was named Jesus, the name the angel had given him before he was conceived.”

Background

Jesus came to us through very meager means. His mother, Mary, was very young and poor; likely between 12 and 14 years old. Because of the divine conception, and she was not yet married, many people questioned the father of the baby. Most assumed she was not a virgin, and she would have dealt with the questioning of her reputation her entire life.

Luke 1:26-38 (NIV)

The Birth of Jesus Foretold

26 “In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, 27 to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28 The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”

29 Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. 30 But the angel said to her, “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. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”

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[a] the Son of God. 36 Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month. 37 For no word from God will ever fail.”

38 “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her.”

But Mary was chosen for a reason – she had a very pure love for God and stayed devoted to Jesus His entire earthly life. We see her showing up again and again throughout Jesus’ life and ministry and witnessed his crucifixion in her 40’s. Mary was Jewish and had been educated in the Old Testament prophecies at a young age, as is evidenced in Luke 1:54-55. Even at her young age, she knew the magnitude of what God had chosen her to do and with great bravery she accepted it (Luke 1:38) and praised Him.

Luke 1:54-55 (NIV)

54 “He has helped his servant Israel,
    remembering to be merciful
55 to Abraham and his descendants forever,
    just as he promised our ancestors.”

When Joseph, who was promised to Mary, realized she was pregnant, he was planning to quietly end the engagement. This spoke greatly of his loving character, because during that time, it was acceptable to kill an unfaithful woman by stoning. But as we know in Matthew 1:18-25, an angel came and spoke to Joseph about the situation. And Joseph, in his faithfulness to God, accepted this information, married Mary, and adopted her unborn baby.

Matthew 1:18-25 (NIV)

Joseph Accepts Jesus as His Son

18 “This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit. 19 Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.

20 But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus,[c] because he will save his people from their sins.”

22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: 23 “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”).

24 When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. 25 But he did not consummate their marriage until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus.”

I so appreciate that Jesus was born not to rich people with power and influence; but instead poor, everyday people. And when an angel and a great heavenly host come out to announce the birth of Jesus, they didn’t appear to the “important” people – they appeared to lowly shepherds (Luke 2:8-20). God loves and values everyone the same – what a beautiful and powerful assurance! And that we would remember that in our treatment of others!

“Mary shines as a symbol of God’s desire to use the obscure and the ordinary. What encouragement from this simple peasant girl who now stands as one of the most loved women of all time!  In her book, All the Women of the Bible, Edith Deen wrote of Mary, “Though she never traveled any farther than from Palestine to Egypt, and then by donkey, her story still travels to the farthest corners of the earth.” (Kristine Brown, crosswalk.com)

“Let’s learn from Mary’s example today. Let’s remember to live humbly and step out with boldness. Like Mary, we can all be part of God’s remarkable story.” (Kristine Brown, crosswalk.com)

Thoughtful Gifts by the Magi

Matthew 2 (NIV)

The Magi Visit the Messiah

“After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”

When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Messiah was to be born. “In Bethlehem in Judea,” they replied, “for this is what the prophet has written:

“‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
    are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for out of you will come a ruler
    who will shepherd my people Israel.’”

Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.”

After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. 11 On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. 12 And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.”

As mentioned in Matthew 2:11, The Magi/Wise Men/Kings (depending on your translation), gave 3 gifts of great value. Gold was a kingly gift for the King of Kings and may have symbolized His royalty.

Frankincense was incense used by priests and was given to Jesus to acknowledge He was part of the priesthood. It may have symbolized His deity.

And Myrrh was used in anointing oils and embalming ointment and may have symbolized Jesus’ eventual death and sacrifice for us.

All three gifts have a Temple connection. “…As described in 1 Kings 6:20-22, the walls of the Most Holy Place and the altar within it were completely overlaid with—you guessed it—gold. As with gold, frankincense may also have an implied connection with the Temple worship of the Old Covenant. Burning incense at the altar was a key part of the sacrificial system prescribed by God for use in the Tabernacle and, later, in the Temple itself. According to Exodus 30, however, not just any incense would do. A specific recipe of spices mixed with “pure frankincense” (v. 34) was to be consecrated as “pure and holy” (v.35) and was the only incense permitted at the altar. Just like the first two gifts, there is a Temple connection with myrrh as well. Exodus 30 tells us that liquid myrrh was a main ingredient in the anointing oil used to ceremonially prepare the priests, the instruments, the altar, and the Temple itself before sacrifices could be made. Again, parallels to Jesus’ consecrated life and sacrificial death are immediately noticeable.” (Scott James, crosswalk.com)

Our Adoption into God’s Family

This reminded me of Galatians 4:4-5:

Galatians 4:4-5 (NIV)

“But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship.”

When we invite Jesus into our life, He adopts US to be His children and to be part of His family. (And if that doesn’t call us to consider adopting people into our own families!) In God’s perfect timing, He sent His Son to be born, to die and to be resurrected for US. Acknowledging Jesus as our Savior and asking for forgiveness from our sins frees us from our sin curse!

Jesus came to redeem those under the law. “The word translated as “redeem” is from the Greek root word exagorazo. This is the same word used to buy a slave out of bondage.” (bibleref.com) We are slaves to our sinfulness with no hope of escape!

Engraving by George Pearson, circa 1890. (Photo by Culture Club/Getty Images)

But with Christ, we find forgiveness and belonging! If you haven’t already, give yourself to Jesus today! It’s not too late!

John 3:16 (NIV)

16 “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.”

Conclusion

As we go through this season, Lord, help us to stay focused on You. You are an incredible gift to us…from your humble beginnings, to your terrible death, and to your miraculous resurrection. You have made it possible for us to to be free of our chains to sin and death. May we spend these celebratory weeks drawing closer to You, our Creator! May we give ourselves, and encourage those around us, to accept the best gift of our lives and invite You into our life. Jesus, You truly are the best gift!

As Handel wrote in the “Hallelujah Chorus” of “Messiah,”

And He shall reign
And He shall reign
And He shall reign forever and ever
King of kings (Forever and ever)
And He shall reign (Hallelujah! Hallelujah!)
And He shall reign forever and ever
King of kings! and Lord of lords!
King of kings! and Lord of lords!
And He shall reign forever and ever
Forever and ever
Forever and ever
Hallelujah! Hallelujah!
Hallelujah! Hallelujah!
Hallelujah!

2 thoughts on “Jesus Is the Best Gift

  1. Thank you so much for this timely message as we remember His first coming. Sent from Mail for Windows 10 From: Life with JesusSent: Friday, December 11, 2020 6:30 AMTo: donxdebbie@gmail.comSubject: [New post] Jesus Is the Best Gift Cynthia Thomas posted: " One morning I was reading an advent devotional by Louis Giglio, and was reminded that this season is all about Jesus. His birth and what a gift He is to us! My children were discussing the gifts the Magi gave to Jesus, and it got us to research the pre"

    Liked by 1 person

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