Gift Wrapping

Giving gifts is a Christmas tradition. Seeing smiles of delight when a gift is opened, especially on the faces of children, is a wonderful treat for the gift giver. It doesn’t matter that the wrapping so carefully applied is now torn and tossed. The gift is the main event.

“Don’t gift wrap the garbage.” This advice came from John Maxwell, a writer of motivational books. He meant that we shouldn’t keep carrying what stinks and is bad from our past. Regarding failure, he says, “Get up, get over it, and get going.”

Jesus was the best gift that heaven had to offer. His mother wrapped Jesus in swaddling clothes at his birth. The manger served as a “king-size bed.” The shepherds wondered at the report of the angels about the Christ child’s birth and the reality of that event right before them. Later the wise men from afar presented their gifts to Jesus. Were the gifts elegantly wrapped? If so, how did the wrapping survive the epic trip across the deserts by the kings from the east?

Jesus is God wrapped in flesh. “The word was made flesh” is how John 1:14 describes Jesus. Another verse says, “God was manifest in the flesh.” (1 Timothy 3:6).

Five phrases in this verse as translated in the New Century Version can only describe Jesus; “proved right in spirit, and seen by angels. He was proclaimed to the nations, believed in by the world, and taken up in glory.”

During his short life on earth, Jesus “unwrapped” many gifts for people. Jesus gave many gifts to his followers, among them protection, peace, safety, healing, forgiveness, and resurrection. He gave himself as the best gift. “God so loved that he gave…” is how John 3:16 begins. Paul, a writer of Scripture who had a dynamic conversion, used the phrase “gave himself” five times in connection with Jesus. Indeed, he gave his word, his name, his Spirit, his life and blood for the salvation of man.

Over thirty-three years after his birth, he died on the cross and was wrapped in linen by Nicodemus and Joseph. They spent their money on spices weighing a hundredweight to prepare his body for burial. They placed him in Joseph’s tomb. No doubt their tears dropped on the fine linen as the finality of death faced them.

He continued to give after his resurrection. He said, “Peace be unto you” to his troubled disciples at least four times. He gave the hope of life after death by his resurrection from the dead.