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The great gift exchange

December 23, 2014 by Eric Stillman 0 comments

Posted in: Christmas

“God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Corinthians 5:21)

To what shall I compare the kingdom of God? The kingdom of God is like a man at a White Elephant Gift Exchange. Picking first, he chose the present with the Justin Bieber wrapping paper, hoping for something epic, and unwrapped it to find… a mug shaped like a toilet bowl.

jim.toilet bowl mug

The man sat back down, dejected, and watched as the rest of the party picked gifts, ignoring his prize, until one last present remained. The last man in the circle, knowing what was hidden in the final package (for
he had put it in there) took the toilet bowl mug instead, freeing the man who had picked first to open the last package. And inside, much to his astonishment, he found the keys to a brand new Porsche, parked outside.

The story of Jesus is the story of the great gift exchange. It is the story of the triune God, Father, Son & Holy Spirit, sinless and enjoying the perfection of heaven, without sin or suffering. And it is the story of men and women, created to enjoy a relationship of love with that God, but due to their rebellion, condemned to suffer in a broken world and to spend eternity separated from that God, from that perfect, life-giving love.

Christmas is the story of the great gift exchange. That this perfect, holy, loving God, loved His people so much that He would not let them perish in their sin, deserved though it might be. But instead, God the Son, the eternal, holy, sinless Jesus, would enter into time and space, flesh and blood, dirt and pain and the stench of a manger, to be born to a teenage mom, in a scandalous manner, among animals, visiting by unclean shepherds, forced to flee for his life as a refugee from a murderous government at an early age. Christmas is the miracle of the incarnation: the Son of God giving up the perfection of heaven for the suffering of this earth.

And Jesus, this Son of God, would grow up to die on the cross for our sins. And at that cross we see the great gift exchange at its most magnificent: he takes our sins, and we receive His righteousness. Justification. Forgiveness of sins. Adoption into the family of God. Eternal life.

And although He now sits at the right hand of the Father in heaven, Jesus continues to take that which we no longer want, and give us something far better. His hope for our despair. His acceptance for our shame. His freedom for our guilt. His peace for our anxiety. His joy for our sorrow. His love for our heartache.

This Christmas, remember Jesus and the great gift exchange. You have received so much from Him. What can you give to Him this year? How can you offer Him your devotion, your love, your service?

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