It’s So Hard to Keep the Perfect Gift a Secret
Every Christmas it’s the same thing. When I find a gift that I really think my wife will love, it is so hard for me not to give it to her before Christmas. I know that sounds crazy, but it’s true. When it comes to certain things, I am just not a good secret keeper.
In John 7, Jesus is talking to his brothers about going up to Jerusalem to celebrate a Jewish feast.
”After this Jesus went about in Galilee. He would not go about in Judea, because the Jews were seeking to kill him. Now the Jews’ Feast of Booths was at hand. So his brothers said to him, “Leave here and go to Judea, that your disciples also may see the works you are doing. For no one works in secret if he seeks to be known openly. If you do these things, show yourself to the world.” For not even his brothers believed in him.“
Jesus summarizes his response in verse 8:
”You go up to the feast. I am not going up to this feast, for my time has not yet fully come.”“
Jesus had his purpose in view. He knew he was here to do something that no one else could. Only he could save a dying world from a sickness that no medicine could cure.
Jesus knew he had to do. He knew he would suffer and die for the sin of the world. It would seem that he had this in clear view as he walked the Earth. What would it be like knowing the day and manner of your own death? Jesus spoke about it many times. He talked about the Son of Man being lifted up. He knew all about crucifixion. He understood very well how terrible it would be.
As I read some of those words, I almost feel some sympathetic anxiety. Did Jesus feel anxiety about his impending death? We know that the stress was so great that in the garden of Gethsemane, He sweat great drops of blood, but other than that it would seem that Jesus doesn’t show any signs of anxiety as he walks and talks with the disciples. Maybe he had something else on his mind. Something so compelling and consuming that it pushed all the fear and anxiety out.
But what could be so powerful, so compelling, so consuming that it could overcome a fear of an impending horrific death?
Perfect Love and the Joy of Giving
In 1 John 4:18, one of Jesus closest friends gives us the answer. Perfect love casts out fear. John had walked with Jesus and known him better than any other of the disciples. As John wrote to the early church, he understood who Jesus was and is. He began his gospel with the words that explained the deity of his mentor and friend. The Creator of the universe stepped into time to rescue his creation. The word became flesh and dwelt among us. All powerful deity humbled himself, and became a vulnerable little baby born into a dirty barn in a world that was crippled by sin and death. He came to the people that he had created and loved so much. He knew what he had to do. He was bringing the best gift ever. Life, everlasting.
I can only imagine the excitement he felt with that kind of gift.
Did Jesus feel anxiety about His impending death or anticipation about giving the people He had created and deeply loved the best Christmas gift ever, true life and freedom that only He could?
I honestly don’t know the answer to that question. Maybe it’s a little bit of both.
I struggle with anxiety as well from time to time. This Christmas season, I’m really trying to focus on the love that casts out fear. We are all gift bearers. We are the messengers that God has chosen to share the good news with a world that desperately needs it. The #Gospel is that good news. It’s so much better than a new phone or some fancy jewelry. When we really understand the gift that we have, we should be filled with the anticipation of the joy of giving it away.
It was this anticipation that the angels must have felt in Luke 2:
“I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people!”
That sounds pretty exciting to me! I can only imagine the exhilaration of the angelic hosts in heaven getting ready to share the news with the shepherds,
“The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.”
They must have been bursting at the seams to announce such an incredible event. I love their reaction in verse 13-14 as they listened to the single angel relaying this unbelievable message, and then it seems like they could no longer hold back. Suddenly the sky was filled with angels, exploding in magnificent crescendos of worship!
“Glory to God in highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.”
This is the message we have to give.
This is the force that can push through fear and anxiety.
This is the greatest gift of all time, given to us in perfect love by God Himself.
This is the gospel.