The First Noel: A Magnificent Gift in Paltry Wrapping!

Have you ever gotten a gift so beautifully wrapped that you got really excited only to be dissappointed when you finally discover what it really is?

Given a choice I am sure most of us would choose a great gift with paltry wrapping rather then the other way around.

As I watched “The Nativity Story” recently, an interesting thought came to mind. If Christmas is about God’s gift of His Son to the world, then why didn’t God bother to wrap it up properly? You know, the big pre-launch marketing campaign followed by a host of angels preceeding a golden chariot with the number plate “Heaven 777” on it, lots of trumpets blaring out the Heavenly Anthem to herald the arrival of the heavenly gift.

But no, the baby had to be born in a manger surrounded by horses, cows, sheep and a couple of shepards. Sure, there was a bright star in the sky and a choir of angels appearing to the shepards, but that’s quite “low key” even by Singaporean standards don’t you think?

This was the baby whom the prophet Isaiah foretold 700 years before when he wrote: “For unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given!” But why did God have to give the world his Son? The answer is simple, yet profound. He gave his Son because WE were worth that much to Him.

I was very touched today by a play performed at church that illustrates this point and I want to share it with you all.

Once there was a Pastor who fell in love with a prostitute. He loved her despite what she was in the past and decided that he would marry her, knowing that this marriage would not be looked upon favourably by the members of his community. At first, this girl would not accept his proposal because she felt she could never erase the sins of her past and that her sins would cause the young Pastor trouble as well. But after much persuasion, she relented they were married.

The next few years of their marriage was plagued with stares and gossip from others. But in spite of all that, he still persisted in loving her. But eventually, the girl felt she could not live with the gossip anymore and left home, which only invited more criticism from the community with the usual “I knew it couldn’t work” She finally found herself doing the only job she knew to do in a place far away from home.

The Pastor never gave up loving his wife. He finally sold everything he had and set out to search for her, eventually finding her in a place of ill repute where she was being auctioned off for the night. By the time the Pastor found her, she looked filty and used. She was being auctioned off at a bargain basement price when the Pastor took out all the money he had and bidded a price that took everyone by surprise. At a going rate of 35 cents, he bidded $500 which would have won him the bid except that he reached into his pocket and pulled out $20 more and shouted $570 instead.

When he finally held his wife in his arms, he told her he was sorry that that was all he had and that he would have bid much higher because she was worth so much more to him.

God gave his Only Son because we are of such value to Him! He gave his Son so that he could die on that Cross 33 years later to make it possible for all of us to return to God. Even the name had been picked before his birth. “Jesus” in Hebrew means “God saves”.

Perhaps for some of you, Christmas means the light up along Orchard Road, feasting on Turkey and Ham, Santa Claus, presents and parties. If it is, then may I suggest that you are only really admiring the nice gift wrapping. It is when you actually unwrap the package and get past all that glitter and noise, that you discover what is truly special about Christmas. Christmas is about a baby born in a manger. But more than that. When you look into that baby’s eyes, realise that you are worth so much to God that he would give that baby in exchange for YOU!

At the first Christmas, God gave a magnificent gift wrapped only in swaddling cloths. Nowadays Christmas is so wrapped up with all the extra ribbons and glitters that we might just get so carried away admiring the gift wrapping that we miss the gift itself! May we all look past the wrappings to truly behold this magnificent gift of God!

Mild He lays His glory by,
born that man no more may die;
Born to raise the sons of earth,
born to give them second birth.

Hark! the herald angels sing,
“Glory to the newborn King”

This will be my final post for the year. My sincere thanks to all ieatishootipost readers for your support, emails and comments. I would like to take this opportunity to wish you all a Blessed Christmas and a Happy New Year of Makaning!

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