A Birthday Gift
Last weekend we were able to visit our church family in Amarillo. The preacher is doing a sermon series entitled “Christmas is For-Giving.” I love the play on words. This week he focused specifically on “What Would Jesus Want?” He pointed out that Christmas is the only birthday celebration in which we give gifts to everyone except the birthday boy. This led him to the question, “What would Jesus want?”
Interesting. I have never really thought of this before. This time of year we are consumed with what everyone else wants, including ourselves, and I’ve never once stopped to think about what Jesus would want.
The answer is found in John 17:24, “Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world.”
Jesus, the Savior, the reason for the season, the “Christ” in Christmas wants us. Like many people, you may have the reaction of Peter in Luke 5:8 when he experienced Jesus’ glory: “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!” I think we fluctuate between understanding our sinfulness, questioning why Jesus could ever love us as sinners and fighting our pride, thinking more highly of ourselves than we should. We would never say it but we live as if it’s a privilege for Jesus to call us “friend”, not the other way around.
And yet Jesus wants us. He wants us during the times we recognize our ugliness and the times we are blinded by our pride.
Jesus. Wants. Us.
This may be one of few, if not the only time in scripture where he says, “I want.” Jesus wants us. Sinners are his target audience. We are his target audience! “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners” (Mark 2:17). In case there was any doubt, Jesus clearly says he came for sinners. There is no ambiguity in this statement.
Have you ever tried to earn salvation? Have you ever lived in a state of constant guilt that you are not good enough or that you should be doing more? And yet even when you “do more”, you are still left wondering why you didn’t do even more? You go throughout your day distracted by the never ending “to do” list, striving to function under the weight of good intentions never acted upon. You vow to spend time with God the next day and when tomorrow comes you are still left with too many tasks and too little day left to get it all done.
Yep. Been there. Done all that. Still wrestle with all these emotions.
And yet, this is exactly where Jesus meets us. He came for sinners. He tells his Father a request for people, sinners, to be with him. We are not an exception; we are the rule. We are Jesus’ target audience.
I find it fascinating that not only does Jesus tell us what he wants but also that we are the gift. For those of us who live under the stress this time of year to find gifts for everyone on the list, how great would it be if everyone truly just wanted to be together, if we had the same response as Jesus, “I want those you have given me to be where I am.”? Gifts are fine. But what I love more than anything is just being with friends and family, especially this time of year.
My challenge for us as we continue through this holiday season is to turn our eyes to what the one being celebrated wants: us. He wants sinners, the humble, the prideful and every state in between, to be with him. There is no striving left, just rest. In fact, Jesus calls us into this rest, a rest for our souls. “Come to me all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest.”
Come to me. Jesus wants us.
Our receptivity to the call of Jesus is enhanced when we acknowledge that his target audience is sinners and that we are that audience. Rest in beginning to understand the beauty of giving ourselves as a gift to him this Christmas.