For about a month now, my inbox has been filled with emails offering me the opportunity to buy gifts online. Of particular interest to me are the offers of discount Gift vouchers at Christmas – perhaps even my computer knows I can be a lazy last minute present buyer! But the concept is brilliant for two reasons – the gift receiver gets to choose their gift, and gift cards point us to what God has done for us in Jesus!
Redeeming is gaining or regaining possession of something via an exchange or payment.
And that is just God’s intention in the Birth of Jesus.
Jesus was born to be payment for you – that God may regain relationship with his treasured possession, his treasured creation – his image bearers – with you.
Too often we treat God like we treat Santa and expect of God what we expect of Santa. When it is absolutely necessary we pay him some attention but apart from that we don’t give him a thought and live life doing our own thing in our own way in our own time. We hope he won’t see how naughty we are and he’ll turn around at just the right time to give us every good thing we could possibly imagine. It doesn’t really matter if you’re naughty or nice, Santa will still deliver. Same with God right? Wrong.
You see, the Bible teaches us that nothing so small, so flimsy, so ordinary and so faulty as us, could possibly stand in the presence of God’s immensity, potency, extra ordinariness and holiness. God can’t ignore the way we have treated him.
And yet, here is the Christmas miracle…
You can’t win God’s favour back, but in Jesus, he is willing to give it to you. Read that again – he is willing to GIVE it to you.
There is a pretty popular belief out there that we actually need to earn God’s favour.
So, if we do enough good things to counter the bad things we’ve done, we will earn God’s favour and be able to enter heaven.
Maybe even if we are a bit religious from time to time we will earn God’s favour.
But the Bible, that God has written and given to us, appears to tell us a completely different story.
God’s plan is to redeem us. To take us back.
In the birth of Jesus God comes and offers… and offers… and offers… and offers us redemption, reconciliation and peace. Forgiveness and hope. God does this tenderly, gently, kindly. This is God’s graciousness. This is Christmas hope. May you know it or find it afresh this Christmas.