Hope's Greatest Gift
Friday - December 25th
"Hope is Here" Advent Devotionals - Day 25
Scripture to Read Today: Matthew 2:1-11
On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
After thinking I had heard all of the fun Christmas songs recorded before I was born, and throughout my lifetime, I came across an odd Christmas song a few years ago. In 1953 ten-year-old Gayla Peevey sang "All I Want for Christmas is a Hippopotamus." A fan so loved the song that he gave Gayla a real live hippopotamus as a Christmas gift that year. Gayla named the hippo "Matilda" and kept her for 47 years. Gayla thought she had found a perfect home for Matilda in 1998 when Disney's Animal Kingdom opened in Orlando.
Unfortunately, Matilda died of a heart attack while being transported to Animal Kingdom. Peevey was crushed and talked about what an odd and yet wonderful gift the hippo had been to her nearly five decades earlier. She said she had received some incredible gifts over the years from family and friends, but nothing ever topped getting a hippo for Christmas when she was ten.
By now, Christmas day, you have probably already received and given several gifts. Today you may exchange many more presents with family and friends. I doubt any of us will get a hippo - and I am sure we are all glad about that. Some of us may think we failed this year at getting just the right gift for those on our Christmas shopping list. Others might find ourselves completely satisfied that we secured exactly the presents we had hoped we could give to others as presents. Some of us may think we got the perfect gift for someone, and they may ask for the gift receipt so they can exchange it for something else.
After all of the decorations, Zoom Christmas parties, shopping, cooking, wrapping of presents, and other annual yuletide activities, today is THE day. Today is Christmas!
Merry Christmas to you and your family!
The tradition of giving gifts on Christmas has its roots in Matthew chapter two. In the first eleven verses of this chapter, we read how Wisemen from the east had traveled a long distance to see and worship Christ, the newborn king. They brought gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Costly gifts fit for a king.
While the presents you receive or give today may bring joy to the giver and the receiver, nothing compares to hope's greatest gift. This is the true gift of Christmas. All of our gift-giving points to this, the greatest of all gifts. With this gift, God initiated something--something big. The birth of Jesus was not the full gift itself. It was the very beginning of what God would offer us freely out of love. Jesus' birth set in motion the climax of God's plan to redeem humanity.
After His birth, Jesus would live a sinless life, go to the cross as our substitutionary sacrifice, and then conquer death and the grave in His resurrection. He now lives in Heaven interceding for us and our lives. What a gift!
When we, by faith, receive the gift of Christ, God ushers us into His family as we experience His eternal forgiveness. The gift is there, available to us. We can embrace it or ignore it. The difference is condemnation and freedom, guilt and forgiveness, death and life, and ultimately Heaven or Hell.
If you have received the gift of Salvation through Jesus, thank God for this, the most excellent present you will ever receive. If you have not received the gift God offers you in Jesus, reach out and take the gift God extends to you in His love.
The present God offers us far outweighs any hippo. He offers us forgiveness and freedom through Jesus. That is the perfect Christmas gift.