The First Christmas Gift Exchange

Around the throne of heaven, many angels worshiped the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. They were bowing, dancing, and exalting “Holy, Holy, Holy.” The glory of God radiated with the intensity of the desert sun but was as pleasant as a perfect spring day. God’s glory reflected off the iridescent wings of the cherubim creating a shimmering house of worship. Everything was glimmering with harmony, peace, joy, and righteousness. And then it happened. The Son stood up. Ever tuned to the Trinity, the angels froze as if holding their breath, waiting, and hovering in anticipation. The holy hush was so quiet that it was deafening. Since the seventh day of creation, the Father, Son, and Spirit had sat in perfect repose and contented fellowship.

Jesus looked at the Father with eyes overflowing with respect and adoration. His eyes twinkled, and with a soft smile, like someone with a hidden secret, He bowed his head slightly to the Father. The Father fixed his gaze on His Son for what seemed like an eternity, and then without seeming to move, He nodded. Jesus, as if taking a cue, bowed His head before turning away. And then, the Son and the Holy Spirit were gone. The angels observed the Father’s confident demeanor and continued singing a new song like our beloved hymn, “Oh Night Divine.”

Be silent, all flesh, before the Lord, for He is aroused from His holy habitation.

Zechariah 2:13

Moved with compassion and longing for the long-lost children of Adam, the Father gave His only begotten son without contempt or grudgingness. The giving of the Son started the Christmas gift exchange which began the tradition of exchanging gifts with each other on Christmas morning. We understand that with a gift exchange, there must be at least two gifts. One gives a gift, and in turn, receives a gift. The gift of Christ to man created an unresolvable dilemma. Mankind could not give a sufficient gift in return.

Praise God that Christ paid for our sins, but much more Christ came “that He might bring us [meaning you] to God.” (1 Peter 3:18) The Father gave His Son, and in exchange, Christ brought you to God. He wanted you! Christ brought you to God in Himself. “In Christ” is more than a tagline; it is a gift. “In Christ,” you are the gift Christ brought back to the Father. Why do I say all this? Because so often, we doubt the Father’s love, doubt our worth, doubt our acceptance, and forget that Christmas is about our new loved, valuable, and accepted identity in Christ.

It is equally important to understand how Christ brought you to the Father. Typically, we emphasize believing that Christ is the Son of God without realizing that “in Christ” means we too are sons. It is easy to understand that Christ paid for our sins, but how did He place us “in Christ?” Galatians 2:20 gives us the answer. “I have been crucified with Christ, and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.” You, the old man, where the power of sin reigned, were crucified with Christ. By faith, you were incorporated into Christ so that whatever happened to Christ happened to you.

When the Bible speaks of being “in Christ,” it is as opposed to being “in Adam.” We were born “in Adam,” with an unregenerate spirit that was dead to God but alive to sin. When Christ died to the power of sin, you, the old man, died to the power of sin “in Christ.” When Christ was buried, you, the old man, were buried “in Christ.” When Christ rose from the grave, by faith, you too were “in Christ,” and you rose from the grave full of Christ’s life; alive to the Father and spiritually dead to sin. When Christ returned to the Father, you were by faith “in Christ,” and He gave you as a gift to the Father. You were part of the first gift exchange. God’s gift to us is Christ. Christ’s gift to the Father was bringing many sons, you, to the Father.

When Adam sinned, “God stationed the cherubim and the flaming sword which turned every direction to guard the way to the tree of life.” God sent Christ as the way back to the tree of life, which was boldly declared when Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” The barrier put in place to the tree of life was removed and the gates of heaven are now open wide for all who confess that Christ is Lord.

Lift up your heads, O gates, And be lifted up, O ancient doors, That the King of glory may come in! Who is the King of glory? The Lord strong and mighty, The Lord mighty in battle. Lift up your heads, O gates, And lift them up, O ancient doors, That the King of glory may come in! Who is this King of glory? The Lord of hosts, He is the King of glory.

Psalm 24:7–10

Perhaps you have seen footage of the day that France was liberated from German occupation with the myriad of people pouring into the streets jubilant, festive, dancing, weeping, hugging, kissing, and laughing. That was nothing compared to the angel’s merry-making when they saw the gates that banned mankind from God disappear forever. The Lord of Hosts, King Jesus, returned from battle to present to His father the spoils of war: SONS (YOU). It was Jesus’s way of saying, “Merry Christmas, Father.” Heaven erupted with jubilant cries of “Worthy, worthy, worthy is the Lamb that was slain.” (Revelation 5:12)

But wait, the gift exchange didn’t stop there! Much more, God gave the Son a gift. 1 Corinthians 12:27 says, “Now [meaning now that you are saved and a son of God in Christ] you are Christ’s body.” In return for His sacrifice, the Father gave the Son a spiritual body: YOU. You are the spiritual body of Christ. You are a unique expression and manifestation of the Father on the earth. “So we [the church], who are many, are one [spiritual] body in Christ, and individually members one of another.” (Romans 12:5)

God, the giver of all good things, then gave you the gift of the Holy Spirit as co-heirs with Christ. The same spirit that defeated death and the grave lives in you. You are now alive to God, and God is alive in you. This gives you the power to say no to ungodliness which destroys peace, joy, and freedom. 

This Christmas, I hope you see the Father’s heart overflowing with love and joy because His children surround Him. That’s YOU! For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son. We think of Christ as the gift to a lost, lonely, and weary world. He is! But Christ came to be part of a gift exchange. Remember two gifts! He was the gift that would then ransom a gift to present to His Father.

The gates that barred the way to the Father are gone. Christ, the tree of life is the way to the Father. By simple faith, you can be a son of God and the body of Christ too. With childlike faith, respond to the nudge in your soul. It is the Father calling you home.

“Father God, I acknowledge that Christ is Lord,
that He paid for my sins, and by faith,
I invite your Spirit to make me a son
so that I will be home in your presence for Christmas
and have your presence in me forever.”
Amen.

Merry Christmas, and God bless your New Year!

Life Center Board & Staff

Here is a link to a favorite Christmas song. May it be a special blessing to you.

O Holy Night
Martina McBride with Lyrics –

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