A Biblical day began at sunset. God's day begins in darkness and ends in light. Today, with our electricity and clocks we calculate days from midnight to midnight. Man’s day begins in darkness and ends in darkness.
So Christmas Day 25 December, Biblically, begins as the sun sets on Christmas Eve, 24 December. For this reason, many families, from Germanic and Nordic ancestry, celebrate Christmas on Christmas Eve.
The Greatest Gift
We give gifts at Christmas time in honour of the greatest Gift ever given. For "God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son". Freely we have received, freely we must give. It is far more blessed to give than to receive.
Getting Vs. Giving
Yet, we still have many people who have not grasped this most basic truth of Christmas. To many Christmas is the season for getting, not giving. Many have their hands out asking where is their Christmas box? "What do you have for me?" "Give me! Give me! Give me!"
Complete strangers seem to have no shame in demanding some gift for themselves at Christmas Day. We need to remind them whose birthday we are celebrating.
The First Christmas Gifts
The very first Christmas gifts were given by the wise men from the East. They travelled great distances, across difficult and dangerous terrain, in order to worship the Greatest Person ever born. They presented extraordinary gifts: Gold for the King of kings; Frankincense for the High Priest of all priests; Myrrh for the sacrifice that would end the need for any other blood sacrifices.
These men from the East were wise. They recognised when the Messiah would be born. They discovered where He would be born. As they came from Babylon and Persia, where Daniel had served, they were no doubt aware of the prophecies made by Daniel, which clearly identified when the Messiah would be born. The gifts were most appropriate.
They recognised that this was not merely an heir to the throne, a prince, being born! "Where is He who has been born King …?" They recognised that gold was most appropriate for the King of all kings.
Frankincense is symbolic of prayers and worship, so in presenting frankincense they recognised that the Messiah would be the High Priest over all priests.
Myrrh was an ointment used for burial. Jesus Christ was coming as the Lamb of God who would take away the sins of the world.
The Crib, the Cross and the Crown
At Christmas we remember the crib, but we also need to look beyond the crib to the Cross. The wood of the crib should remind us of the wood of the Cross, on which our Lord would die, a willing sacrifice for your sins and mine. But the wise men looked beyond the wood of the crib and of the Cross to the gold of the crown. For we no longer worship a babe in a manger, or even a suffering Saviour on the Cross, but a risen, ascended Redeemer reigning on high who will return to Judge the living and the dead.
The Lamb of God and the Lion of Judah
The crib, the Cross and the crown. The crib reminds us of the Incarnation. Jesus is Emmanuel - God with us. The Cross reminds us of why Jesus came. He lived the perfect life that we should have lived and He died the death that we deserve to die. The crown points to the return of the King of kings and the eternal Judge. The first time Jesus came as the Lamb of God to take away the sins of the world. The next time He will come as the Lion of Judah to conquer and to Judge.
When Will You Bow to Christ?
The question is not: will you bow to Christ, but when will you bow to Christ? Will you bow to Christ today in the day of grace, when forgiveness is freely available? When the door to heaven is wide open? Or will you bow on the Day of Judgment, when the door to salvation is firmly closed, when the day of grace is ended? We will either bow to Christ as Saviour today, or we will bow to Him as Judge, on that great and dreadful Day of Judgment.
What Gift Will You Give?
As we remember His birthday at Christmas we should ask: What gift will you give the One whose birthday we are celebrating? What can you give to our Lord Jesus Christ? What gifts would be appropriate for the King of kings, the Lord of lords, the Creator and eternal Judge? Our Saviour and Redeemer?
The Boy Who Gave Jesus His Lunch
Andrew brought a little boy to Jesus and the little boy gave Jesus his lunch - five loaves and two fish. With that little boy's lunch, the Lord Jesus fed thousands with the food He multiplied. Jesus can do a lot with a little.
The Widow's Mite
Our Lord Jesus pointed out that the widow gave more than all the rest. The widow's mite may have looked very small in the eyes of those around, but the Lord, knowing how little she had, recognised that she had actually given everything she could.
The Expensive Perfume
Mary gave Christ the gift of expensive perfume, anointing Him for burial. "Then Mary took a pint of pure nard, an expensive perfume; she poured it on Jesus feet and wiped His feet with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume".
Zachias hosted Jesus and honoured Him by making restitution and donating much of his riches to the poor.
Give Him Your Attention
Jesus said; "If you love Me, you will keep My commandments." What can you give the Lord Jesus Christ? You can give Him your attention. Study His Word. Learn His Law. Get to know the Word of God and the God of the Word. Meditate on His Word, the Bible. Determine to put first things first. Bible before breakfast. Scripture before supper. Psalm before lunch. Read through the whole Bible this year. That will only take ten to twelve minutes a day to read four chapters of the Bible each day. There are 1187 chapters in the Bible. If you read just four chapters a day you will be able to read through the entire Bible in one year. How can you know His will unless you study His Word?
The Sacrifice of Obedience
"To obey is better than sacrifice." Determine to obey God. Dedicate your life to obeying the Cultural Mandate of Genesis 1:28. Care for and improve God's creation. Plant trees. Cultivate gardens. Adopt animals. Care for the environment. Recognise that all animals belong to God. Treat animals with the care and diligence of those who must give an account to the Creator and eternal Judge. Be kind to God's animals. Ensure that animals have access to fresh, clean water and good healthy food. Do not waste food. Think of your pets, wild birds and other animals who can benefit. Do not litter. Recycle. Be thoughtful and considerate.
Make Christ's Great Commission Your Supreme Ambition
Obey the Great Commission. Dedicate your life to making disciples, teaching obedience to all things that the Lord has commanded. Introduce others to Christ. Witness for Christ. Be alert to evangelistic opportunities. Give Christ your love, your devotion, your worship and adoration. Give Him your heart, and mind, and hands, and feet. Devote your time, talents and treasure to Christ and His Kingdom. Use your initiative and energy to advance the Kingdom of God. Be whole- hearted and persevere to the end.
Give Christ All that you Have
Does Jesus have all of you that there is to have? Jesus said that the widow gave all that she had. What have you given to God?
Have you made promises that you have gone back on?
Have you made commitments that you have not honoured?
Be Reconciled to Your Brother
Jesus said leave your gift at the alter and first go and be reconciled with your estranged brother. Make that phone call. Write that letter. Forgive. Ask for forgiveness. Do restitution.
These would be acceptable gifts and sacrifices of praise to present to our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ on His birthday.
What are You Searching For?
Wise men seek Christ. The question is: What are you seeking for? Is it fun, friends, fame and fortune? Popularity, prestige and power?
"Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things shall be added unto you." Matthew 6: 33
Dr Peter Hammond
P.O. Box 74 Newlands 7725
Cape Town South Africa