Have you ever seen or experienced something that was indescribable—something so beautiful that words fell short?
- Maybe it was a sunset
- Or the first time you saw your newborn son or grandchild.
- Perhaps words failed you the day of your wedding when you looked and saw your bride coming down the aisle.
- Maybe you couldn’t find the nouns and verbs to describe the joy at seeing a loved one come through the door after being deployed in the Middle East.
We’ve all had times—experiences—that were indescribable. Well—that’s the word Paul uses to describe the FIRST Christmas Gift—a Gift SO indescribable that it has inspired all gift-giving at this time of the year—and of course I’m referring to the Gift of God’s Son—that first Christmas night when God proved He loved us—loved you and me so much that He GAVE us His only Son. Paul says, “Thanks be to God for His—INDESCRIBABLE gift!”
Tonight, before we head home to prepare to open our gifts to each other—I want us to think about what makes God’s gift of His only Son truly indescribable. I think this is the perfect way to wind up our study of The Gospel—or the GOOD NEWS—According to Christmas. So what made the Gift of Jesus—indescribable?
(1) First God’s gift of Jesus was PERSONAL.
Now—as you and I know—for a gift to be meaningful—it has to be given with the receiver of the gift in mind. I mean when we care enough to give a gift to someone, we don’t just go buy them anything. For example, no one who cares would give me or Karl Gruel a hair brush for Christmas. Of course not—Good gift-givers don’t do that kind of thing. No—they think and search for something aimed at the recipient’s unique wants or needs.
You know, with the advent of on-line shopping—malls and shopping centers are having a hard time getting customers to shop there. This week I read about how the marketing team at Lakeside Shopping Centre, which is just outside of London tackled this problem. Their marketing team—working hard to draw shoppers away from their computers—and back into the store—did research. They learned that 11 percent of parents in their area had at least one impossible-to-buy gift request from their children. I mean children asked their moms and dads for things like:
- “a pencil that does my homework for me”
- “a trampoline to the moon.”
Well, these researchers took a close look at all these requests and then tasked five prominent British inventors to provide the dream gifts for FIVE of these kids. Their resulting creations were be part of a massive giveaway where—with a lot of publicity—they invited those five children to come and receive a gift custom-made with them in mind.
- So—the child who said they wanted to become a LEGO figure, got one from certified LEGO builder Duncan Titmarsh.
- Confectioners at Smith & Sinclair have designed a suite of Wonka-esque candies that taste like a holiday dinner for another child.
- And seamstress Charlotte Denn created a dress that can, with the pull of a string, turn its wearer into a princess.
Marketing manager Ben Leeson said, “It’s a lovely truth that children and even adults will sometimes put impossible gifts on their Christmas lists. At Lakeside you’ll find all your Christmas presents – even the seemingly impossible ones.”
Well, I admit—these gifts are amazingly personal—but they still pale in comparison to God’s gift of Jesus. You see Jesus was given with not just five children in mind—but with every human being ever born or yet to be born in mind. Do you remember what the angel said to the shepherds that night? Luke 2:11 says that he proclaimed, “Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to…YOU!” The glorious news of Christmas—the GOSPEL according to Christmas—then is that like that angel said, Jesus came for YOU and YOU and YOU and YOU—and even ME. He was given with us as individuals in mind.
Think of it.
God has been loving you and planning to send Jesus to save you for thousands and thousands of years. And that IS indescribable—I mean how do you describe a love like that—a love that motivates the giving of Jesus for billions and billions of INDIVIDUALS!
When I was in college I worked at the local Holiday Inn as a night auditor. Our innkeeper was an older woman—and she was a slave driver. Plus, she was kind of a skin-flint. Every other Holiday Inn I had worked in gave the night auditors kitchen privileges. We could go in there and eat whatever we wanted. We could also put a TV in the lobby and turn it on to help us pass the time. But not this Innkeeper. She locked the kitchen and locked up the TV’s.
She was also an atheist—and often made fun of my faith. One night while I was working she came in. She had been on a business trip. Her flight had gotten in after midnight and she had stopped by to check her mail before going home. She looked at me and said something very uncharacteristic. She said, “Mark I was looking out the window of the plane and saw the lights of thousands of homes. Does your God know about all the people in all those homes?” I said, “Yes, He does. And He loves each and every one of them.” She gave me a kind of thoughtful “Hmm…” and then left. She never brought it up again. But God’s love is like that. It’s so big—and so personalized—there are just not words to describe it. He loved the WHOLE WORLD—so much—that He gave us His Son.
(2) Here’s a second thing that makes the gift of Jesus indescribable. He was given to meet a SPECIFIC NEED.
And—when you and I give good gifts—we embrace this principle. We want our gifts to me useful—to bring joy—to satisfy the person in some specific way. You know—I’m a coward when it comes to sock-wearing. I wear black socks or navy blue socks—sometimes I get crazy and wear dark gray. You’ll never see a stripe on my ankles—but not my son-in-law Joe. No—Joe wears COOL socks—hosiery with big stripes and polka dots and colorful designs. So—those kind of socks are one of the gifts we get him every year. We know they will meet a specific need—his need for socks to not only keep his feet warm—but to align with his character as a cool person. Last year when he opened his annual sock gift he told us that thanks to us—he never has to buy socks. We are his sole sock supplier. He looks forward to getting his foot-covering needs met every Christmas by his in-laws.
Well in sending Jesus into the world God was meeting our specific need. He knew that as sinners, we needed forgiveness. This is what the angel told Joseph. He said, “She—Mary—will give birth to a Son, and you are to give Him the name ‘JESUS,’ because He will SAVE HIS PEOPLE FROM THEIR SINS.” (Matthew 1:21 ) Do you remember how Paul put it when he wrote to young Timothy? He said, “Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst.” (1st Timothy 1:15)
There’s a bit of prose that floats around at Christmas that expresses this wonderful truth. I know you’ve heard it because I’ve shared it before. But it bears repeating. It goes like this: “If our greatest need was for information, God would have sent an educator. If our greatest need was for technology, God would have sent a scientist. If our greatest need was for pleasure, God would have sent an entertainer. If our greatest need was for money, God would have sent an economist. But since our greatest need is for forgiveness…God sent a Savior.”
When God gave us His Son, He DID have our deepest needs in mind. I think the verses of Scripture that make up the Romans Road say as much. Do you remember those texts?
“All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God…But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us…the wages of sin is death but the GIFT of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus.”
And God didn’t just send Jesus to die for some—but for all. 1st John 2:2 says that Jesus, “is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.”
Anyone who wishes—can come to God and find forgiveness of sin through Jesus. The door is open to anyone who will admit their sin and need for Jesus’ forgiveness. And again—that’s indescribable—I mean, how do you find the words to describe a love great enough to provide a sacrifice like that?
As Frederick Lehman put it in his hymn lyric:
Could we with ink the ocean fill, and were the skies of parchment made,
Were every stalk on earth a quill, and every man a scribe by trade;
To write the love of God above would drain the ocean dry;
Nor could the scroll contain the whole, though stretched from sky to sky.
(3) That leads to one more thing that makes the gift of Jesus indescribable. It was SACRIFICIAL.
We embrace this principle in OUR gift giving as well. I mean, we know that to really convey love to the receiver a gift must cost the giver something. The more it costs in money or in time…the more sacrificial a gift is…the more love it conveys.
This is why RE-GIFTING is frowned upon. Webster’s New Millennium Dictionary defines this practice in this way. To regift is “to give an unwanted gift to someone else.” In any case, two out of three people say they have either regifted or are considering regifting. And while there are no doubt many successful regifters among us—people who are able to give in a way that at least LOOKS sacrificial and personal—there are also unfortunate stories to show for the less successful, which make the discussion entertaining. Imagine using your unwanted gift at the CC DAY SS Class White Elephant Christmas Party gift exchange—when the person who originally gave it to you was at the party!
No—regifting is far from indescribable. The thing that makes a gift GOOD is that it costs us something. This principle of giving is seen in the famous short story entitled, The Gift of the Magi. Remember? It tells of a young couple who are so poor that they cannot afford to buy each other gifts for Christmas. But each finds a way to sacrifice so they can purchase a gift their spouse needs. The husband sells his most precious possession—his pocket watch—and uses the money to buy a beautiful comb for his wife’s lovely long hair. But, unbeknownst to him, she cuts and sells her lovely hair to a wig maker and uses the money to buy a beautiful watch chain for her husband’s pocket watch. They both sacrificed so they could give a special gift to each other. Well, when God gave us His only Son, He broke the record when it comes to sacrificial giving—for no one has ever paid more for a gift than God did, when He gave His only Son to pay our sin debt.
This is why each Christmas Eve when we worship we always remember that greatest of all sacrifices through the observance of the Lord’s Supper. And as we do so tonight, let me invite all Christians present to partake with us. Even if you are not a member of this church. If you are a Christian…if you are His, this is Yours.