The Greatest Christmas Gift Wasn’t Placed Under A Tree

The first Christmas

Christmas is a very special time. Long before the days of Walmart, Target, Macy’s, or Kohl’s, the greatest Christmas celebration occurred. There was no media hype about the impending day of celebration. No extended period of shopping for gifts took place prior to the day of celebration. Black Friday shopping or Cyber Monday deals were nowhere to be found. A tree or festive decorations didn’t adorn the place for this celebration. This celebration was attended only by a carpenter from Jerusalem, his wife who was expecting a child, and a few local shepherds.  The shepherds received their invitation to the party from an angel.

The celebration that I am referring to was the very first Christmas. It was the day that Jesus, the long prophesied Messiah and savior of the world was born. This first Christmas party didn’t happen in a beautiful home or an exquisite banquet hall. Instead, it was celebrated in a stable meant for animals. Amazingly, the  greatest Christmas party in history was an unpublicized and humble party. The baby born that night was a direct gift from God to the world. God’s gift that night would prove to be a gift that would change the world forever. It was the greatest gift ever given or received. 

The truth about the nativity scene

There were no other gifts exchanged or received at the first Christmas party. Christmas plays and nativity scenes suggest there were three wise men from the east bearing gifts to the baby Jesus that night. Actually, there were no wise men present the night Jesus was born. Christmas tradition suggests three wise men; probably because there were three gifts. The gifts were gold, frankincense, and myrrh. The Bible does not tell us how many wise men were involved. There could have been a hundred as far as we know.

The Gospel of Matthew says these visitors came from “the east.” Bible scholars have speculated they came from Persia, Arabia, or even India. The wise men recognized Jesus as the Messiah and traveled thousands of miles to worship him. They followed a star which led them to Jesus. By the time they met Jesus, he was in a house and was a small child, not an infant. This suggests they arrived a year or more after his birth. So, it was impossible for the wise men to be present that first Christmas night. The only gift offered that night was the baby that was born, which of course was Jesus. 

Christmas has changed 

Much has changed about Christmas celebrations since that first celebration over two thousand years ago. Pagan traditions, modern day materialism and the marketing schemes of retailers have distorted the celebration of Christmas. It has evolved into something very different from the very first Christmas party. The first Christmas was all about God’s gift to mankind and worshiping God for his gift to man. The gift of Jesus in the manger that night was actually God in the flesh, come to earth in the form of a baby. The prophet Isaiah foretold of the birth of Christ long before Jesus was born. Isaiah said, “Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Emmanuel ”(Isaiah 7:14) The name Emmanuel meansGod with us.”

Worship the true giver

Since that first celebration long ago, people have forgotten what Christmas is really about. Instead of worshiping the original giver, which is God, people often worship the material gifts. The gifts exchanged at Christmas will soon lose their newness and their value, and often will be forgotten. Try remembering what you were given for Christmas last year or the year before that. It is hard to remember, isn’t it? That is because the material gifts we exchange at Christmas don’t make a life changing impact on our lives. The Christmas traditions created by a materialistic society have corrupted the holiday’s true message. 

Please don’t get me wrong. I am not totally against the exchanging of gifts at Christmas. But, I believe if that is all our celebrating of Christmas means to us, we are seriously missing the true blessing of Christmas. True giving can be done all year long, and it does not have to be a material gift, even though it can be. True giving begins with a change in our hearts. It involves a giving of ourselves with the hope of helping someone and making their life better. 

True giving changes lives, and lasts a lifetime. The original Christmas gift changed the lives of all mankind forever. When you accept God’s gift of Jesus , it will change your life forever.  And, when you share Christ with someone else, their life will also be forever changed. Jesus was the very first and very best Christmas gift ever given. Jesus was the gift that keeps on giving. 

Thanks for reading!

Until next time,

Mark

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