The Extraordinarily Appropriate Gift
“For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given.” (Isaiah 9:6)
God has given to mankind the most needed, the most fitting, the most valuable gift that there could ever be. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son.” (John 3:16) It is the ultimate gift that has ever been given or ever will be given, and it possesses the potential to keep on giving and giving, for it was carefully designed and prepared by Him who knows all about us.
In the second chapter of Luke, we read of the appreciation that one man had for this gift. He, along with many others before him, loved the Lord and His ways. His predecessors all died in the faith, having not received the promise (Hebrews 11:13), but unto Simeon it was revealed that he would see what God had been preparing. How the heart of Simeon was flooded with joy! The great gift of God was nigh unto him, not afar off. One morning, the Holy Spirit communicated to this brother that today was the day. He was directed to the temple (Luke 2:26-27). We can only imagine the eagerness of expectation with which he responded to the leading of the Lord. How he must have scrutinized each visitor to the sanctuary that day!
A husband and wife entered the great structure. In outward appearance, they were as many other couples who came to the temple bearing a young babe, but the heart of Simeon was stirred. His inner vision was opened and he saw the salvation of God. Within the simple human face of this little baby was a great and profound thing. He held the child in his hands. His heart overflowed with wonder and gratitude. “Lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word,” he told the Lord, “For my eyes have seen thy salvation.” (Like 2:29-30)
There was more. Simeon looked into the face of the baby Jesus and said, “A light to lighten the gentiles.” (Luke 2:32) He perceived the enormous wealth of understanding of how to live, of how it all works, that was in this special human being that God had miraculously brought into the world. All of these things were made manifest by the appearing of Jesus. Much had been hidden from the understanding of man since the fall of Adam and Eve (2 Timothy 1:10). Now the new Adam had appeared to make it possible to recover what had been lost (Romans 5:14-19). All this marvelous potential was in this little mite of humanity—involved in His purity of heart and consequent purity of life. Jesus lived a life of perfect balance between the flesh and the spirit—a balance that was taught Him by the guidance of the Holy Ghost, who guided, succored, and kept Him in the days of His flesh. There was portrayed within Him a perfect picture of how life should be lived down here, insomuch that we are informed that He left an example that we should follow in His steps (1 Peter 2:21). There was no excess in His life—not in compromise or in fanaticism. He lived a human life devoted to God as a human life should be lived. His life is a safe pattern to follow. He is a perfect sample, an endless mine of revelation of the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning us.
As to how badly we needed such a gift… well, it is beyond words. The Bible tells us in Hebrews 7:26 that “such an high priest became us,” that is, He is suitable for us, just exactly what we needed and do need; “who is holy, harmless, undefiled, septe from sinners, and made higher than the heavens.” We needed someone like this—oh, how we needed and do need Him! He has exactly what we need. He is not too high and beyond our reach, and He is not too low. We needed someone holy who could make us holy and keep us holy. We needed someone as wise as a serpent and as harmless as a dove to make us the same. He wants to do us good. If Jesus was minded to mark iniquities, then who could stand? But He wants to forgive, to cleanse, and to heal. He lived a life of perfect undefilement, of perfect seption from sinners—an elevated life above the ways of the world; and He wants you and I to walk on the same plane (Titus 2:11-12). “Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same.” (Hebrews 2:14) He can be touched with the feelings of our infirmities (Hebrews 4:15); He can succor those who are tempted (Hebrews 2:18). Jesus wants to help you to rise above what you could never surmount without His help. There is great victory in the Lord Jesus for those who receive Him.
Of the two who were entrusted with the rearing of the begotten child, one was in a position to appreciate the divinity of this baby more than anyone else on the face of the earth. For Joseph understood by revelation, but Mary knew by experience. She knew she was a virgin mother beyond the power of words to convey the thought. She knew this child was different—very different. She knew the reality of His conception that had avoided the curse of the first Adam. Both Joseph and Mary marveled at the perception of Simeon, the aged child of God, as he blessed them in the temple. It dovetailed so accurately with the dealings of God in their lives. And the Spirit of inspiration had something special for the mother (and for us, as well) in the prophecy of this man of God.
As Simeon held the Lord Jesus in his arms, and the Spirit of God spoke to his heart and through his mouth, he stated these solemn words, “Behold this child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel.” (Luke 2:34) Thus we see the dual potential of the great gift that God has proffered to us all. It is life unto life or death unto death. It is a stone upon which we can fall and be broken, thus obtaining a broken and contrite spirit which is of great price in the sight of God, or it is a rock of offense which will fall upon us and grind us to powder (Matthew 21:44). That which has the potential to bring the greatest blessing when accepted and received can plunge us into the greatest misery and horror if rejected. Such is the nature of the profound Gift which God has set among us. It is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel.
The life of Jesus condemns everything that is not according to that life. It condemns the best efforts of men and reveals them as vanity (Psalm 39:5). It manifests the wisdom that is from above and thus exposes all other wisdoms. We see that the existence of Jesus in the flesh is a revelation, “that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.” (Luke 2:35)
As the Lord Jesus began to grow up as a child, He was different from all around Him, both young and old. Since the time of Adam and Eve, there had never been a pure-hearted human being living in this old world, and to be around Jesus was a revelation. For all, it was a very uncomfortable revelation because of the universality of sin, and the voice of prophecy, speaking through the lips of Isaiah, plainly portrays the effect of this new Adam on the people around Him. “Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the LORD revealed?” (Isaiah 53:1) Most people didn’t believe it was as possible or necessary to be as good as Jesus—good from the inside out. It was essential to acknowledge your condition and to humble yourself before you could get value out of the life of Jesus, and we would like to add, it is exactly the same today. If you were willing to humble down and acknowledge what Jesus had and how you were supposed to live like that, too; it led to some very serious thinking, to convictions about what was right and wrong in your life, to godly sorrow, and to “repentance… not to be repented of.” (2 Corinthians 7:10) Oh, glory! Jesus has something for those who accept what He will reveal in our lives by His life. Thus that wonderful arm, that arm that is not shortened, is revealed (Isaiah 59:1). He can save to the uttermost (Hebrews 7:25). Bless His Name!
All this is hidden from those who excuse themselves or refuse to acknowledge their condition. It is equally true of those who doubt that God can or will purify the heart and keep it pure. Many have much more faith in the weakness of human nature than in the keeping power of God. They do not believe that God has made a way to overcome for mankind. They believe that the life of Jesus was an impossible ideal and that God just basically means for us to do the best that we can. They shut out the light from heaven and go deeper in the darkness. They deny the practicality of the Gift of God. They would put it on a pedestal instead of utilizing it. This attitude denies the imparted deliverance and the victory for us that is in the Son. “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given.”
There was nothing in the Lord Jesus that appealed to the fleshly nature of man. “There is no beauty that we should desire him.” (Isaiah 53:2) The appeal of the gift was and is to the heart. In this way, the earthly ministry of Jesus did not stir the things in man that are stirred by heroic figures, by show and display, by impressive, awe-inspiring derring-do. For when the work of God is done right, there is no room in it for the flesh to glory. Outwardly, He aroused indignation and offense, irritation and scorn, in the hearts of those who rejected the light He brought. It did not fit with their ideas at all, and He would not swerve to accommodate them and assist them in their ways. There was great love behind this, for they were wrong, and their only possibility of help was in Him and what He had for them. But they saw it not. “We hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.” (Isaiah 53:3)
Yes, Jesus is the Revealer, flashing light all around Him. His life is an illumination. Not only does He have all the answers, but He exposes our bankruptcy. He knows well that there is coming a time when there is nothing covered that shall not be revealed (Matthew 10:26). When we shall have to give account to Him “with whom we have to do,” (Hebrews 4:13) whether we will or not. In mercy to us and great love, He has come to show us what we have to face. He would prepare us for the judgement if we will let Him. But whether we let Him or no, still He reveals the thoughts of many hearts.
Well, this is interesting, you may be thinking. But this extraordinary Gift goes beyond that. It fastens an obligation on you and me that we cannot avoid in the end. The free Gift opens privilege and opportunity to us, and we are accountable. What will you do with Jesus? He has been given to you.