What did you open today? A small fuzzy box with beautiful jewels tucked inside? Maybe a larger box with more bells and whistles than you know what to do with? Or, an envelope with promises of a warm destination to steal away the winter blues? No matter how much you love that present, there’s one more. Did you find it?
Amid the piles of torn wrapping paper and glittery bows, a gift more expensive, exceptional and exquisite than any other waits for you. It fits you perfectly – was tailor-made.
Don’t be fooled by the ordinary wrapping of linen strips…nothing compares to this extraordinary gift…no, nothing.
“And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger…”
Ever wonder why Luke included this detail of “swaddling cloths” in his account of the Christmas story? Certainly, we can make a “feel-good” connection to our tradition of the beautifully wrapped presents we give one another at Christmas. But I don’t think that’s exactly what God had in mind when he inspired the Gospel writer to include it. No, this simple story element foreshadows Jesus’ ultimate life-mission – and the greatest historical event in all history.
“Taking Jesus’ body, the two of them wrapped it, with the spices, in strips of linen.” John 19:40a
After Jesus died on the cross, his body was literally swaddled in grave cloths.
Jesus entered this world as God’s greatest gift to us, was bound in swaddling cloths by man, and unwrapped by God himself – for us.
“Peter, however, got up and ran to the tomb. Bending over, he saw the strips of linen lying by themselves…” Luke 24:12a
Hallelujah! A child was born this day!
Hallelujah! Christ is risen!
Oh Father! Thank you for your gift today! It’s perfect. I know I’m completely unworthy of such an extraordinary gift, but in complete humility, I both accept it and give thanks. Jesus, help me to live a life worthy of such a gift – never taking for granted the tremendous price you paid, for me. Amen
Ironing it out:
Have you ever received an extravagant gift you had difficulty accepting? Or, perhaps you’ve been on the other side as the giver of a heartfelt gift that someone flat out refused (or tried to refuse) to accept. Maybe you were left with a gift you had to return feeling ashamed or deeply disappointed.
God’s gift in Jesus is more than extravagant, exquisite, and extraordinary, but before you try to refuse this one, there is no return policy available. The gift was paid in full, swaddled at birth – for you.
Spend time thanking God today for this gift of love and life. What can you adjust in your life to demonstrate your deep gratitude?