Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Wrapped Up for All the World to See

written by David Jeremiah, December 2011, Turning Points Magazine & Devotional, pages 18-21

The Power of Wrapping

At Christmas, why doesn’t each person just bring the presents he or she has purchased and hand them out to the recipients without wrapping?  No way! What does the wrapping add to the mix? …  anticipation, wonder and suspense!

The world apparently agrees: Presents without wrapping paper are just not an option. Although this would be hard to measure specifically, I read that $2.6 billion is spent annually on Christmas wrapping; that wrapping paper (for all occasions) accounts for half the paper produced in the U.S. annually; and that two billion trees are cut down annually to produce wrapping paper. As usual, those numbers are so big that it’s hard to grasp them. But this much is clear: We like to be surprised!

Don’t look now, but God has been in the wrapping and suspense business way longer than we have. Think about it: Every single prophecy ever uttered by a spokesperson for God is a promise wrapped puzzle. The very first prophecy in the Bible had to do with the coming Redeemer of mankind:

“And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed: He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel.” (Genesis 3:15, God speaking to Satan.)

Seed? The serpent’s seed and the woman’s Seed? Who are they? “Bruise your head…bruise His heel?” What does that mean? And when will these things happen? The suspense about the coming Redeemer only increased with the passage of time and revelation of more clues. Perhaps no clues were more mysterious than those saying the coming Messiah would be born of a virgin (Isaiah 7:14) in the tiny town of Bethlehem (Micah 5:2) --- a village “little among the thousands of Judah.” How could a virgin give birth? And why in Bethlehem? Israel’s wisest guessed and speculated, but the wrappings were firmly in place. And only God could tear them off.

Even when the Messiah finally appeared, He was “wrapped in swaddling cloths” (Luke 2:12). Yes, Mary and Joseph and the shepherds could see Him --- His face was in plain sight. Yet the swaddling cloths still represented a wrapping --- part of the mystery. If this is the Christ child, why was He born as a peasant, wrapped in the common cloth of a carpenter’s family? Where were His royal wrappings? Where was His crown?

The Power Of Unwrapping

Every family has had the proverbial “box” experience on Christmas morning. You know --- where little kids have more fun playing with the boxes than with the toys that came inside them. They build forts with the boxes. They use them as sleds outside on a grassy or snowy hillside. They get inside the boxes and spring out like a jack-in-the-box. The boxes become just another toy to a creative child.

The truth is, it doesn’t take too long to explore the depths of many things in our world and look for other distractions --- especially a child’s toy at Christmas. But what about Jesus? The world has been exploring the mystery of His being for two thousand years --- and for several thousand years before His appearing --- and we still have not exhausted who He is. (And never will.) Getting to know the Son of God is like unwrapping a Christmas present concealed in an infinite layer of wrappings. The deeper we dig into His person, the more we discover what we didn’t know. And everything we find leads us to want to dig deeper still; to know more of Him than we did before.

Why did the crowds follow Jesus and say, “We never saw anything like this!” (Mark 2:12) Well, because they hadn’t! They had never seen a man heal the sick and give sight to the blind. They had never seen anyone confound the scribes and Pharisees with His teaching, catching the leaders of Israel in their own contradictions and hypocrisy. They had never heard anyone refer to Himself as the Bread of Life, the Door of the Sheep, the Way, Truth, and Life, or the Resurrection and the Life. The more they followed Jesus, watching and listening, the more they were able to see He was like no other. He was a gift from God; “…for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him” (John 3:2b).

The danger for those of us who have been Christians for many years is that we forget the wonder we felt when we first “unwrapped” Jesus as a gift from God. Even though we know the Bible stories about Jesus, “…there are also many other things that Jesus did, which if they were written one by one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that would be written. Amen” (John 21:25).

As you unwrap your Christmas presents this year, remember the perfectly --- infinitely --- wrapped gift that has come to you from God, the best gift anyone could ever receive: Jesus Christ, God’s Son.


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