December 2016. You will probably have heard of zm‘s Gift Scheme whereby if you can’t think of a gift for someone in your family or wider circle who ‘has everything’ you can send a gift to someone who has virtually nothing. Over recent years many people in Malawi and northern Mozambique have benefited and our hope is that this year there will be others receiving a Bible, a goat, a beehive or a roof for their Church through the generosity of zm friends here in the UK and elsewhere. This is an immensely worthwhile way of celebrating Christmas by bringing help and hope to those less favoured than ourselves.
However it wasn’t zm or any other organisation that first thought of a Christmas Gift Scheme; God started it at Bethlehem 2000 years ago! And He had it planned before ever He put the world into space (1 Peter 1:18-21). When everything was ready God sent Jesus, His ‘indescribable Gift’ (2 Cor. 9:15) into the world to bring forgiveness and eternal life to all who repent of their sins and look to Him for salvation (Romans 6:23).
Lots of presents received at Christmas are not really needed and some are set aside without being used, but how terribly tragic it would be to neglect or discard a gift of great value simply because we didn’t realise its worth! Jesus when speaking to a woman beside a well in the Samaritan city of Sychar said, ‘If only you knew the Gift of God and Who it is.’ (John 4:10).
That lady soon found what we also need to discover, that
JESUS CARES: He cared enough to take the awkward journey through Samaria to meet and talk with a woman of doubtful reputation, something that even astonished His own disciples (John 4:27). In fact He cared enough to lay aside all the glories of heaven to come into this sinful world and die on a Roman cross so that we could have life and one day enjoy the glories of Heaven (Romans 5:6).
JESUS COMES: He didn’t wait for the unlikely event of this lady thinking she was good enough and then finding her way to Him. He came exactly where she was. And He first did that in Bethlehem. Jesus is Emmanuel, ‘God with us’ (Matthew 1:23).
JESUS KNOWS: This lady found she couldn’t hide anything from Jesus. He knew her past life and her present need (John 4:17-18). He knows our situations too and is ready and completely able to meet our greatest need.
JESUS SAVES: He brought a massive change in this lady’s life as the Bible account shows (John 4:39-42) and He has been changing lives ever since. That is why His parents were told to call Him Jesus (Matthew 1:21), ‘because He will save His people from their sins’. That is also why He went to the Cross to bear the sins of all who will accept His gift of forgiveness and eternal life.
How tragic to be offered the greatest, richest, longest lasting Gift this world will ever know and not accept Him because we did not realise His value. Many failed to see Who Jesus was when He first came; Herod, the religious leaders and, it seems, the innkeeper (Luke 2:7) even though they were so close to where He was.
‘If only you know the Gift of God and Who it is..’ and respond to His love, coming to Him in repentance and receiving His salvation, you – like this Samaritan lady – will have a Gift which, far from being just for Christmas, will last for all eternity (John 4:14).