Jesus is the gift that keeps on giving – A sermon on Matthew 2:1-12 by Rev. Colin Pretorius.
This past Monday was the 179th anniversary of the publication of one of the most famous ghost stories ever written. It’s a story most of us have read or seen on film, but if you hear the last part of its very long name you’d probably not recognise it:
In Prose. Being a Ghost Story of Christmas.
But I’ve no doubt you’d recognise it immediately by the first part of it name:
A Christmas Carol.
Dickens’ book is set against the background of a bleak and cold Christmas Eve. It’s the story of Ebenezer Scrooge, a penny-pinching old cheapskate who turns away two men who seek a donation from him to provide food and heating for the poor. But those aren’t the only visitors he receives. That night there are four ghostly visitors. First there’s the ghost of his former business partner. Then three very spooky visitors pitch up: the ghosts of Christmas Past, Christmas Present and Christmas Yet To Come. And this is a life-transforming experience for Scrooge – the penny-pinching cheapskate begins to treat everyone with kindness and compassion, embodying the spirit of Christmas. The ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Yet To Come gave him a precious gift, a new insight into what Christmas was all about, and he began to live his life in a new way.
There are many people today who are caught in the opposite trap to the one in which Scrooge originally found himself. But they’ve also lost sight of the real meaning of Christmas. I’ve heard of one family where they draw up for each other a list of the gifts they want – you know, sort of like kids sending their lists of gifts to an imaginary old man with a fluffy beard supposedly somewhere up in the North Pole… They’ve become so wrapped up in having to get what they want that they’ve lost sight of what this time is all about.
Folks, Christmas isn’t about getting presents from your parents or grandparents. It isn’t about watching or going to the Carols in the Domain show. It isn’t about spending time with your family and having lunch together – although that’s not a bad thing in itself. Christmas is about Jesus! Christmas is about the celebration of the coming of the Saviour of the world! If we look at our text this morning, we see how a group of wise men came to Bethlehem via Jerusalem to do just that – to celebrate the birth of Jesus, the new-born King, by worshiping Him and bowing before Him. They brought gifts to honour Him. Their gifts may have been precious, but it was Jesus Himself who was the biggest gift of all. He was God’s gift to the world. He is still the most important gift anyone can receive, and the full magnitude of His gift will be revealed when He returns.
- Jesus is the gift of Christmas Past;
- He is the gift of Christmas Present; and
- He is the gift of Christmas Future.
Let’s look first then at Jesus, the Gift of Christmas Past.