A frequent topic of conversation this time of year is the topic of gifts: what gifts to get, what to get whom, what’s on sale, what gifts did you get, what can you re-gift or take back…as long as you don’t get caught?
Did you ever get a lousy gift? I mean a gift that you could have received an Academy Award for seeming like you like it? …this year’s winner for joyful rendition of lousy gift getting goes to…
Well, you may also see and hear about Jesus is the real gift of Christmas; and it’s true. As 2Cor 9:15 says, “Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!” But, many won’t really understand what that means, or else not know how to help others see that.
Amidst the bustle that comes along with modern season of Christmas, I’d like to offer a simple way to have an ongoing, significant impact in people, whether family, friends, students, or colleagues. You’re educators, you know the impact education can have, so give a little nugget about Christmas that may stick with them a while and maybe even inspire them to share with others.
Whether you’re speaking with a Christian or not, an easy way to start in the natural or common realm –as Jesus did before swinging into spiritual things— is in talking about the commonly known song, “The 12 Days of Christmas.” Though some have disputed this theory, people might find it interesting that the song has often been referred to as a secret code. You can research this, but at a time of Christian persecution, the song was written as a way to both declare one’s faith publicly as well as teach and remind less-mature Christians the things of the Faith. For example, two turtle doves represent the Old and New Testaments; the four calling birds are the four Gospels calling out the truth far and wide, the 12 drummers drumming are the 12 points of the Apostles’ Creed, etc.
As people become interested, the focal point of the song, and Christmas, is the partridge in a pear tree. Why that of all things? The tree represents the cross, and Jesus is the partridge. But, why a partridge? The partridge has a unique way of protecting its own. If a predator is closing in on its young, the partridge will actually wound itself enough to bleed, so the scent will draw the predator. Even more, the partridge will flap and flop, feigning weakness, vulnerability, and defenselessness as if it’s injured and easy prey. All this is done to draw the enemy allowing the young birds an opportunity to escape and live. Sound familiar? As you decode, the image sticks in people’s minds, and it’s likely that whenever they hear “The 12 Days of Christmas” in the future, they will remember the gift of knowledge you’ve given them. If you parallel Jesus’ work with that of the partridge and give a bit of detail about WHY Jesus did all that, it will likely make more sense.
Why did Jesus do it? He loves us, and it needed to be done for us. Why was it needed? Because we sinned. What’s that mean? Well, those who have lied, stolen, looked with lust (Jesus called lust adultery of the heart), taken God’s name in vain, etc. may not be in the relationship with God they think. See, all liars have their part in the lake of fire (Rev. 21). No thief will enter God’s kingdom (1Cor. 6). Adulterers and fornicators God will judge (Heb. 13). God will not hold those guiltless who take His name in vain (Ex. 20; Deut. 5). So, seeing that we knowingly, repeatedly, willfully did what we knew was wrong, we are in big trouble. But, only a perfect sacrifice could take our place and make a way for us to be forgiven, given a new heart with new desires, and empowered to overcome willful sin. Enter Jesus. He loved us enough to willingly be wounded and die in our place; and He rose from the grave, so we could have the opportunity to escape the enemy of our soul creeping in on us to destroy us. All who confess and turn from their sins, trust in Jesus to do this work in them, and continue walking out that trust will not only be walking with Jesus now, but continue walking with Jesus and His people throughout eternity. That is a snapshot of why Jesus is the real gift of Christmas.
Once people understand what sin is, and their personal sin, they can better understand why Jesus came, appreciate His gifts of patience, mercy, grace, love, and most of all Himself. And, like patients who finally understand the undeniable reality of their disease revealed through the x-ray, MRIs, blood tests, etc., they are now ready for, and even excited about the cure –regardless of how bitter or painful. As educators, give the gift of education this Christmas. So, make your shopping list, but more importantly, make your sharing list.