The Greatest Gift


The bright blue of the winter sky gives a luminescent nature to the snow that covers the ground. There is something magical about the snow. It bites at your nose when you step out into the icy weather, or it hurries you along home to the warmth and love that resides there. The weather provides opportunities for nights in, heavy quilts, and cups of hot tea as you watch through the window—a frozen wonderland in the making.


With the never ending array of crystal covered tree limbs, there is that special feeling of knowing that while the entire world is trapped under ice and snow, you are safe and warm at home. Inside the home, holiday trimmings that have been tucked away in boxes once again emerge from the attic to greet the arrival of Christmas. Green and red bulbs, fresh popcorn strands and pine-cones adorn the Kirk family’s modest Christmas tree. Garlands, cranberry strands and Christmas cards decorate a once cold and lonely fireplace mantel. The smell of cinnamon, fresh pine, oranges and cloves awaken old, forgotten memories of cherished Christmases long ago.


Christmas is a season full of good cheer, heavenly food and numerous presents wrapped in an assortment of bright, shiny paper and bows. Many people receive gifts as a symbol of love during the Christmas season only to have those gifts of love forgotten or returned weeks later. However, there is one gift that can never be forgotten, a gift that can never be retuned—He is the greatest gift of all—Jesus Christ!


The Kirk family members, who have come to share, enjoy and celebrate Christmas and the birth of Christ, gather around a sturdy oak table, seating themselves comfortably on wooden benches. Grandpa Kirk, a portly old man, seated himself at the head of the table laden with vast amounts of food: stuffed turkey, spiral ham, sweet potatoes, rolls, green bean casserole, and a lavish array of rich desserts, such as chocolate and pumpkin pie, lemon and oatmeal cookies, and a double chocolate fudge cake. Grandpa Kirk cleared a place on the table for his Bible. The Bible is old and tattered, the pages hanging on only by threads. Grandpa Kirk ran his hand through his snow-white hair, and then opened his Bible slowly, careful not to damage the tattered Bible any further. Gingerly, he flipped through the delicate pages, searching for the book of Luke. “The focal point of Luke is Christ, the Son of Man, and it narrates many of those events that demonstrate Christ’s humanity.” (Ryrie Study Bible. Luke. Introduction.)(1614).


As soon as Grandpa Kirk found the book of Luke, he looked up at his family and smiled, “I am going to be reading about the birth of Jesus Chris out of the book of Luke.” He cleared his throat and read slowly, digging deep into the meaning of the verses. “I will be reading chapter two, verses eight through fourteen: ‘And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.’ Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.’” (Ryrie Study Bible. Luke. 2.8-14). Grandpa Kirk took a breath and looked about him. The room was filled with anticipation for him to speed up his reading so the family could begin the feast that was sitting before them, waiting to be devoured. Grandpa Kirk slowly flipped to the book of Matthew and read chapter one verses eighteen through twenty-four.


Feeling the hungry eyes watching him and being a little hungry himself, he sped up his reading. Before he could finish reading, he stated, “I would like to end this time with a few more readings out of the book of Luke and John, to tie in the symbolic meaning of Christ’s birth, death and resurrection. Allow me a few more moments if you will.” He looked for his intended passages, this time more hurriedly than he had done before. He spoke wearily, both hungry and a little discouraged that no one fully appreciated the meaning of Christmas like he did. With a solemn face, he continued to read from the Bible, ending with a passage from John and then a lengthy prayer.


As the last amen was said, everyone hurried to get their food. To one member of the family, Grandpa Kirk seemed sad and a little disappointed. “Grandpa, why are you sad?” the family member asked. It was apparent Grandpa Kirk was meditating on what he had read because he had not noticed the figure standing beside him, nor had he heard the question. The family member asked the question once again, this time tugging at Grandpa Kirk’s shirt sleeve.


“Grandpa, why are you sad?” The family member looked at Grandpa Kirk with wondering eyes, waiting for his reply. When he came to and turned to the figure beside him, he noticed his sixteen year old granddaughter was eagerly waiting an answer. “I am sad Emily. No one seems to care about the precious gift we have received, that babe wrapped in swaddling clothes.” Emily, the granddaughter, looked up at her grandpa in surprise. “I care Grandpa,” Emily said vigorously, “Jesus Christ is the greatest gift this world has ever received. I understand Grandpa, but not everyone sees the beauty of this day as you and I. Not everyone understands the importance of why Christ came to earth as a baby and why He died for the sins of the world.” Grandpa Kirk took Emily by the shoulders, smiled a pearly white smile and said, “I am proud of you my dear. You are right when you say not everyone understands. It is true some do not. But for the ones that do, it is our duty to help them understand what happened when Christ was born and what he did for us on the cross. Do you know why Emily?”


Emily looked into her Grandpa’s deep brown eyes; his eyes were filled with so much love and wisdom. “I think I do.” She stopped to think, “But I am not so sure. Will you explain it to me?” Grandpa Kirk’s eyes lit up like fireworks on the fourth of July, “Of course! That’s what grandpas are for.” He cleared his throat and continued, “Jesus Christ was born of a virgin, which means he did not inherit the sin of man. Jesus Christ is the son of God. He lived a sinless life and became the ultimate sacrifice for our sins. Jesus Christ was abused, spit upon and betrayed, and then He was nailed to a cross on Calvary. He took the beating for us— he suffered in our stead—that’s how much he cared. He took all of our sins upon himself and died so that we may have life in Christ Jesus.”


Grandpa Kirk’s eyes filled up with tears, “You might say Christ experienced hell on the cross. Three days later Christ rose from the dead. Before Christ ascended into heaven, He gave his disciples the Holy Spirit. Emily, one day Jesus Christ will come back for his beloved church. This is why He came to earth, to bring mankind back to God and save mankind from the wages of sin and death. Those who accept Him as their Lord and Savior are protected by His blood and their sins are washed away. It is our duty as Christians to spread the gospel of Christ, to remember and trust in His Holy Word. This is what Christmas is all about, Emily. Christmas is all about Jesus Christ. It isn’t about what we give or receive, for we have already received the greatest gift of all and He is living in and through us. Don’t ever forget that.”


Emily reflected on the words of her Grandpa. He was right. People were too involved in giving gifts and receiving them that they forgot the true meaning of Christmas. Christmas isn’t all about the big jolly man in the red suit or his eight tiny reindeer, but the love and sacrifice God made for his people when he sent his only son to die on the cross. Jesus Christ died for people who do not deserve a second chance, people who do not deserve God’s enduring love and joy. This is Christmas’s purpose—to remind us of the greatest gift we have received and to remind us of the true meaning of Christmas—Jesus Christ.

Comments

  1. Hey Emily,
    That was such a great post... I enjoyed it very much -- and it's so true..:)

    Luv,Emii

    ReplyDelete

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