Since the first Christmas celebration, one word has crossed
everyone’s lips more than any other this time of year. It isn’t
the word carol or tree or food. It’s gift.
Gifts are so inseparably linked with Christmas that we can hardly think of
one without the other. If you listen to conversations in stores this month,
I’m sure you’ll hear gift mentioned several times. We
all have lists of gifts we hope to buy—and some of us have lists of
gifts we hope to receive. I remember one of my children every year would
present me with a carefully printed Christmas list. It even included
optional gifts I could choose to give if I wanted to and always those
essential gifts that were not optional—the must-have gifts!
With all the giving and receiving that happens at Christmastime, it seems
right that we pause to think about God’s gift to us . . . His Son.
Jesus was the one-of-a-kind, original must-have gift that God intended for
every person on earth.
Reflecting on God’s generosity in giving His Son, the apostle Paul
penned my favorite Christmas verse. I always love seeing it on Christmas
Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!
(2 Corinthians 9:15, NASB)
It doesn’t fit in what we usually call the “Christmas
Narrative,” but it’s my favorite because it communicates a true
sense of awe found in the Baby in the manger.
Paul was a brilliant man with a broad vocabulary. He was competent in his
use of the Greek language, an excellent teacher and communicator both on
his feet as well as on parchment. He was the most prolific writer of the
New Testament and, apart from Jesus Christ, perhaps the greatest
theological mind that has existed. Yet, Paul’s pen paused when he
came to this simple four‑letter word, “gift,” and after
giving it careful thought, he wrote, it’s
As he dipped into the treasure of his knowledge, he could not find any word
existing in his day that could describe God’s gift. No descriptive
synonym fits the bill for the person of Jesus wrapped in swaddling clothes and given to
us at Christmastime. Paul was suddenly and completely at a
loss. What word should he use?
The King James Bible says, “Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable
gift.” Kenneth Wuest, in his expanded translation, writes:
“Thanks be to God for His ineffable gift.”
The English Standard Version reads, “His inexpressible
The New Living Translation, “This gift too wonderful for
words!” The Amplified Classic Edition, “His Gift, [precious]
Why is God’s gift indescribable, unspeakable, ineffable,
inexpressible, too wonderful for words, and precious beyond telling? One
simple reason: Jesus was so much more than a tiny baby lying in a manger!
As we gaze closer and think deeper, we see Jesus wrapped in more than
swaddling clothes . . . much more!
First, Jesus was wrapped in prophecy. Read Isaiah’s
astounding prophecy of Jesus as mighty God and eternal King centuries
before Jesus was born.
For a child is born to us,
a son is given to us.
The government will rest on his shoulders.
And he will be called:
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
His government and its peace
will never end.
Second, Jesus was wrapped in history. Sovereign over time, God
wove the events of history so that they dovetailed perfectly, at just the
right time, with prophecy.
But when the right time came, God sent his Son, born of a woman,
subject to the law. God sent him to buy freedom for us who were slaves
to the law, so that he could adopt us as his very own children. (Galatians 4:4–5)
Third, and most significantly in this context, Jesus was wrapped in mystery. True “awe” resides in the mystery of
Jesus’ nature. Even in this tiny baby, we find undiminished deity
clothed in perfect humanity. Linking the two natures together in one
personality, housed in one unique body, the God‑man Jesus was born.
No less deity, no less humanity, in one person, in one body, forever.
That’s awe-inspiring mystery! No wonder hosts of angels declared in
unison, “Glory to God in highest heaven” (Luke 2:14)!
What words fail to describe only worship can express.
This is why the Christmas story must be repeated in God’s words time
after time after time, year after year! That’s the only way people
will hear the truth . . . and believe it.
So, as you celebrate Christmas this season, sing the carols, enjoy the
food, and exchange the gifts. But don’t let the season pass without
remembering the prophecy, the history, and the mystery that surrounds the
original, must-have, indescribable Gift: that tiny baby wonderfully
wrapped, silently delivered . . . eternally adored.