iBelieve - Week 4
From Under the Tree to On the Tree
According to Luke chapter 7, Jesus was dining with some men of honor. All of a sudden, a woman came to the event and knelt down with a peculiar-looking present. Well, it would have been odd compared to the gifts of today. I doubt it was wrapped with red and green wrapping paper, and it was more than likely not topped-off with a bow. Nevertheless, she brought the object and knelt down to the feet of Jesus with the gift in her hands. She began to cry, washing his feet with her tears and wiping them with her hair. It wasn’t long before she began to kiss Jesus’s feet. Then, that gift came into use. It was “a beautiful alabaster jar filled with expensive perfume” (Luke 7:37). The woman anointed the feet of the Son of God with the gift that she brought. After the men of honor threw their shouts of discontent saying, “…She’s a sinner” (V. 39); Jesus spoke hope to the guilt-stricken, desperate young lady. He said, “Your sins are forgiven…Your faith has saved you; go in peace” (V. 48, 50).
What the women did was awesome, but I want to talk about Jesus. I want to use his method of receiving gifts to help us receive gifts this Christmas season in a way that honors him. Are you ready?
1. JESUS ACCEPTED HIS GIFT.
He didn’t have to. You are most likely going to open some gifts wrapped to your name soon—that is, if you haven’t already or you don’t unwrap your gifts. It’s fun. It’s traditional. It’s common. But do you know that some people never grab the gift that they’re given? They never unwrap it. They never use it. They never receive it. And perhaps worst of all, they never say, “THANK YOU!”
When I open gifts on Christmas, I have no thought in my mind of not receiving it. I have never turned my back, pulled back my hands, and sat down without acknowledging the gift that someone put a lot of work into purchasing for me.
NOW, you are probably sitting there with hot cocoa and cookies wondering, “Who in the world does this? I know nobody that refuses to receive a gift that they are given.”
The truth of the matter is this: it is much more common than you think, and it may just be you.
In John chapter 5, there is a paralyzed man that Jesus heals. The “religious” folk of the day were criticizing Jesus for both healing on the Sabbath and claiming to be equal with God. Jesus had the gift of eternal life for them. He brought hope to their world. He healed the sick. He brought the dead to life. He saved many people from their sins. But then you have these Jewish leaders. Jesus told these “gift decliners” these very words:
“You search the Scriptures because you think they give you eternal life. But the Scriptures point to me! Yet you REFUSE to come to me to RECEIVE this life” (John 5:39-40).
Many people in today’s world don’t accept their gift—Jesus Christ. Instead, they follow the example of the Pharisees and other Jewish leaders who declined the gift of eternal life that Jesus tried to give them.
You don’t deserve it! But gifts aren’t earned, they’re given.
2. JESUS HONORED THE GIVER.
Let’s go back to our story. Despite all of the rude remarks of the honorary figures with Jesus, the receiver of the gift honored the giver.
My pastor just spoke about this story this week, telling of the honor that Jesus gave this woman.
Do us all a favor, and honor the people that give you gifts this year. Let’s follow Jesus’s example, and remember that gifts have a cost.
3. JESUS USED THE GIFT HE RECEIVED TO GIVE THE GIFT THAT HE GAVE.
First of all, I want you to realize that none of this was possible without point number one. If Jesus didn’t receive the gift, he couldn’t have given the gift.
If Jesus doesn’t accept the sinful, the sinful are doomed to eternal fire.
If Jesus doesn’t accept the common, the common are left to look elsewhere for hope.
If Jesus doesn’t accept who we are, we are left with that uneasy feeling of our shortcomings and the depressed sense of not being good enough.
But thank Jesus! Because he accepted the woman, the woman accepted him. Because he accepts you and me, we can take advantage of the gift of salvation that he gives us.
This Christmas season, accept the gifts that others give you, so you can bless others. Use it for God’s honor. Let it meet-up with the spiritual gifts that God has given you. Do what Jesus did, and take your gift, “From Under the Tree to On the Tree.”
Use the gifts you receive to give the gifts that God desires of you to give.
The tree is your platform. For Jesus it was a cross. Pray that he would show you what yours is.
Because I accepted the gift of Jesus, I can proclaim his word.
Because I accepted a laptop a couple of years ago for Christmas, this devotional is possible.
Accept it, give it, and have a Merry Christmas!