As we approach Christmas, hear again the words of the angel to the shepherds tending their flocks in Bethlehem’s fields that night and ponder them in your own heart: “Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you ….” These words tell us that the greatest gift ever given to mankind came not in wrapping paper and a bow, but rather in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger. The Savior has been born “to you.” In these two words, are embodied the gospel of Christmas. They create faith in the hearer when they are received with an open heart, because these two words deliver this Holy Child to each one personally. If the text stated only that a Savior had been born, people might say “So what?” But it says that “a Savior has been born to you.” This personalizes the message, and makes it inescapable. These two little words, to you, evoke a response – believe or reject the Christ of Christmas.
The gift of God’s Son is universal, He came for everyone; yet, He’s a personal gift – He came for you. If there was a tag on that little bundle wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in Bethlehem’s manger on that first Christmas, it would have read, “To you, from God.”
This is good news, but not everyone is receptive to it. John 1:11 says of Jesus, “He came to those who were His own, (his own people) but His own (the majority) did not receive Him.” By nature we are proud, resistant to receiving. We get an unexpected gift from someone and we say “Oh, you shouldn’t have,” and we mean it. We don’t want to owe anyone anything. We do the same thing with God. We don’t want to be given to, we want to get for ourselves. We want to earn our own righteousness and present that to God, saying to Him in effect, “Look what I’ve done. Look at what I deserve.” In this way, we stay in control. We remain in the driver’s seat.
But the baby in the manger pulls the plug on this way of thinking. God came when no one invited Him. He was born where there was no room for Him. Before we called on Him, He called on us. He came in the most humble of ways. God divested Himself of His glory in order to initiate redemption’s plan through His Son. He removed His royal robes, and exchanged them for dirty diapers. He hid His power and majesty under the weakness of an infant in a manger, and ultimately in a man dying on a cross. This He did for you and for me.
Do you get the point? God isn’t impressed with our attempts to earn His favor. In the Christ child, He humbly gave to us a gift that keeps on giving. He simply wants each of us to humbly receive the gift of His Son and to enjoy all the benefits His salvation provides.