Around Thanksgiving Day, I asked my grandchildren to send me a Christmas wish list. They have great expectations and hope to receive everything on their list. I’ve been working to fulfill some of their desires. Hopefully, they will not be disappointed.
Guess what! By next Christmas, they will probably be tired of or have outgrown this year’s gifts and want something else. The best gift that I can offer my grandchildren is the gift of myself.
The gift of himself is what Jesus brought to the world at Christmas.
Around 2000 years ago, near the time of Jesus’ birth, the world was about as messed up as it is today, yet the people of Israel had great expectations. They were waiting for a promised Messiah—a King who would make life easier on this earth, according to this O.T. promise:
“The heir to David’s throne will come,
and he will rule over the Gentiles.
They will place their hope on him” (Romans 15:12 NLT).
Their hope was that Jesus would overthrow the corrupt government and set them free them from poverty, unjust taxes, and bondage to the Roman Empire.
Guess what! He could have given them these things but that would not have brought them ultimate joy.
Instead of a King who would change the world around them, Jesus came as a Savior to change the “world” within them. This is reflected in the angel’s word to Joseph concerning the Virgin Mary:
“And she will have a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”(Matthew 1:21 NLT).
Today, Jesus still offers to change our inner world—to set us free from our own destructive urges which make us slaves to the devil and the world.
When we put our hope in him, we will not be disappointed. As Jesus’ follower, Paul said,“And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.” (Romans 5:5 NET)
Jesus’ disciple John tells us that when we invite him to rule our lives, he transforms us so that we become like him. He said, “Dear friends, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet been revealed. We know that whenever it is revealed we will be like him, because we will see him just as he is. And everyone who has this hope focused on him purifies himself, just as Jesus is pure” (1 John 3:2, 3 NET).
This motivates us to action. And even though we are imperfect in our behavior, we know that when Jesus returns or we go to be with him, he will finish the work that he’s started in us.
Jesus came once as Savior to change our inner world, and he is coming again as a King to transform our outer world.
When we participate in communion, we are reminded of this: He said,“ For every time you eat this bread and drink this cup, you are announcing the Lord’s death until he comes again.” (1 Cor. 11:26 NLT)
OUR ULTIMATE HOPE
No more sorrow, no more pain
No more failure, no more shame
No more sickness, no more death
No more robbery or threat
No miscarriage or stillbirth
No pollution on the earth
No more tears, no depression
No slavery or oppression
No abuse, no betrayal
No government, unstable
No injustice, not one liar
No treacherous advisor
No more struggles with the flesh
No more thoughts, devilish
This our hope and strong assurance
Christ will return and keep his promise