“For the Father himself loves you, because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God” (John 16:27, esv).
God knows how to give good gifts to His children. Compared to our gift-giving (which isn’t too shabby, right?), God’s is infinitely better. “If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him” (Matthew 7:11)!
Christmas began with a gift, the gift of a Savior wrapped in the body of an infant—the greatest gift the world has ever known. The idea of gift-giving is central to Christmas. True, much has been secularized, and we can be distracted by materialism run rampant. But we should think of gifts as trinkets that symbolize the greatest gift ever given. And every Christmas, Jesus Christ, the greatest gift-giver, continues to give us gifts. Let’s unwrap five Christmas gifts from Jesus.
“The ultimate gift is always Jesus Himself.”
1. Ultimate Joy: Jesus said, “So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you” (John 16:22). This is a glimpse of heaven! Heaven is coming. And the little bit of joy that we have at Christmas, and the dose of joy we have in our lives, and the Jesus-joy we experience as His followers will be eclipsed by an awesome, eternal, unending, never-changing joy that will last through endless eons of time in eternity called heaven! That’s what we’re looking forward to. That’s what we’re fired up about. And all of that ultimate joy is ours because of the first Christmas, because Jesus came. The first Christmas gift is Jesus.
2. Answered Prayer: “Truly, truly, I say to you, whatever you ask of the Father in my name, he will give it to you. Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full” (John 16:23–24). So why aren’t more Christians experiencing the gift of answered prayer? For some of us, the answer is simple: because we don’t ask. “You do not have, because you do not ask” (James 4:2). Sometimes we flat-out don’t pray. When was the last time you took hold of God’s throne about something? “Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16).
Sometimes the content of our prayers disqualifies us for answers: “You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions” (James 4:3). Sometimes our prayer requests are amiss—stupid, selfish, or foolish.
Notice this qualifier Jesus put on all prayer: whatever we ask must be “in my name,” Jesus said. The only prayers that are answered yes are those that advance His purposes, His timing, and His methodology. Because of Jesus, we can talk to the God of the universe—what a gift!
3. Father Love: “For the Father himself loves you, because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God” (John 16:27). Yes, Jesus is our Mediator and Advocate, but we can walk directly into the throne room ourselves because our Father loves us. And He loves us because we love His Son, Jesus, and believe in Him. Through our Savior, we have access to the perfect, eternal Father and find everything our hearts are longing for. Jesus was born, lived, and died to reconnect us to our heavenly Father.
4. Lasting Peace: “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace” (John 16:33a). Peace is the calm assurance that what God is doing is best. Regardless of the weather, your health, your circumstances, your pain, your loss—what God is doing is best. At some point, darkness will give way to light; the valley will give way to higher ground again; and God will be shown true, victorious, right, and awesome, as He has been all along.
I’ve experienced this miracle of how the “peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7). When I lost it, it’s because I gave it up myself. When I’ve wanted and sought it again, He’s given it freely and generously. His peace is an awesome gift.
5. An Overcoming Heart: Jesus assures us, “In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33b). As we face challenges, we can be courageous, cheerful, and confident. “Take heart” means to get after it. Step up into the faithfulness and promises of God. By faith believe that your best days are ahead of you, and God is going to do some awesome things. What a gift that we can approach life with an overcoming heart.
Jesus gives us these five, amazing gifts, but the ultimate gift is always Jesus Himself. With Him, you get everything; without Him, you have nothing, no matter what you have.
Father God, because of the first and best Christmas gift—Your Son, Jesus—I have direct access to You as my heavenly Father, and I boldly approach Your throne of grace. Thank You for the gift of Jesus. Thank You that with Him, I have everything. All the riches of the kingdom of God are available to me through Jesus: joy, answered prayer, the Father love my soul craves, lasting peace through any storm, and an overcoming heart. Thank You. In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.