“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” – Isaiah 9:6
One of my favorite Christmas traditions is to listen to the musical setting of Isaiah 9:6 from Handel’s Messiah. Though I must admit that this year the VeggieTales version has been more my speed. Perhaps surprisingly Isaiah 9:6 is my favorite Christmas text. Oh don’t get me wrong, I love the Luke 2 story, but through the years this has become one of my all time favorites. “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given.” What wonderful good news!
What was your favorite Christmas gift that you received as a child? Was there one that stood out more than others? Most years children have that one special gift in mind…the item they REALLY want more than all others. One year I remember I wanted a special pair of hit-top sneakers. They had this special button that you could pump up that would make them tighten around your foot. The idea was that the more you pumped them up then the faster you would run and the higher you would jump. I REALLY wanted these shoes…and I got them…and boy did I ever think I could run faster and jump higher! Move over Michael Jordan…I’ve come to town with my special pump up shoes!
As we get older often times the prospect of giving gifts rather than getting them seems to be more important. Many find great joy in searching for that perfect gift to give a loved one. While once we could hardly wait for the doors to open to see what Santa had given us; now we can hardly wait for our loved ones to open those special gifts we’ve gotten for them. Getting gifts loses its appeal and giving them moves to the center.
Yet this text from Isaiah refocus our whole attention. It’s not about the gifts under the tree – no matter if we’re getting them or giving them. It’s about a whole other kind of gift…indeed the best Christmas gift we could ever receive. It’s about the gift of Jesus. You see, Jesus gives us two interrelated and inseparable things. First he gives us himself. The gift that we get at Christmas is Jesus. Then he gives us what he is, a mighty God, a wonderful counselor, an everlasting father, a prince of peace. He brings with him healing, and peace, and joy, and forgiveness, and eternal life. This is the gift that we get at Christmas.
Think about all those wonderful gifts that you received through the years. Did they make you jump for joy? Did you hug and thank and kiss the one who gave it to you? Did you tell others about what a wonderful gift you received? Did you feel motivated to give wonderful gifts to others? I imagine that you probably felt most of these things.
You have been given a wonderful, awesome, amazing gift…the gift of Jesus and all the joys that he brings. So this Christmas let yourself be that child again…a child of God. Jump for joy at the receiving of this great gift. Give thanks and praise to the Lord above who has been so generous with you. Go and tell others about what an incredible gift you have been given. And never forget to use this great gift to give gifts to others. Because it’s Christmas and Jesus has given himself to you as a gift.