I Know What You're Getting For Christmas
Assuming that you have heard of the stewardship of God's grace that was given to me for you, how the mystery was made known to me by revelation, as I have written briefly. When you read this, you can perceive my insight into the mystery of Christ, which was not made known to the sons of men in other generations as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit. This mystery is that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel. Ephesians 3:2-6
My sister always knew what her Christmas presents were going to be. When we were little, I would be the lookout and she would carefully untapped all of her Christmas presents, peek at the goods, and tape them back very carefully. We even had an extra roll of tape just in case we couldn’t tape it back with the original tape. We never officially got caught, but the feigned look of surprise when she would open her presents clearly gave it away. Now, she appreciates the element of surprise and no longer searches for her presents or interrogates her loved ones for hints. This year, we not only know what we are getting for Christmas, we know what you’re getting, too.
“It is the glory of God to conceal things, but the glory of kings is to search things out.” Proverbs 25:2
Searching out wonderful things is glorious, because the searching process fosters knowledge, anticipation, excitement, and makes the finding so much more fulfilling. I’m sure that’s why seeing the star after the long journey from the East filled the wise men with great joy! So in a way, it was for my sister’s glory that she sought our her presents. Jesus talks about people finding and rejoicing. A woman searches for her lost coin, and when she finds it, invites all her friends to rejoice (Luke 15:8-10). A sinner is saved, and all the host of heaven rejoices. A man seeks precious pearls, and when he finds one of great worth, sells all he has to obtain his treasure (Matthew 13:45). One searches for the kingdom of God, and when he finds it, he joyfully gives up his life for it.
After 400 years of silence from God between the last book in the Old Testament of Malachi and the Messiah arriving on the scene, many of God’s people had stopped searching for the coming Savior. Two people that had not stopped their search were Anna and Simeon (Luke 2:22-38). They were waiting in the temple for the awaited Savior and found him when Mary and Joseph brought baby Jesus to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord.
After seeing baby Jesus, Simeon basically said, “Okay, I can die now” (Luke 2:29-32) and Anna the prophetess was 84 years old at that time. The nation of Israel waited thousands of years for their coming Messiah (Romans 16:25), Anna and Simeon waited an entire lifetime for him, but we are born at a time when the awaited Savior has already arrived. Advent means “arrival,” and this Christmas season, [spoiler alert], you are going to get the arrival of Immanuel, God with us, baby Jesus.
Revealed In Christ
“Great indeed, we confess, is the mystery of godliness: He was manifested in the flesh, vindicated by the Spirit, seen by angels, proclaimed among the nations, believed on in the world, taken up in glory.” 1 Timothy 3:16
The New Testament talks about God’s great mystery, hidden for ages, being revealed in Christ. There is a huge buildup from the beginning of Adam and Eve with God’s promise to redeem all people, and we find the fulfillment of this mystery in a baby boy born in Bethlehem. Unfortunately, a lot of people born in Jesus’ day completely miss God’s arrival on earth.
Kind of like my daughter missing her unwrapped present under the tree this year. My mom was so excited to give my two year old her first balance bike and left it unwrapped under the Christmas tree. She called Little E into the room and said, “What is that under the tree?!” Little E walked straight to the bike, bent down, and picked up a different present that was wrapped and not for her. She completely missed it, and it was right in front of her! I have to say that if I was living in Jesus’ time, I’m sure the only way I would recognize Jesus as Christ would be by the grace of God. Like daughter, like mother. Some of the world’s greatest mysteries are right under our noses! If only we can have eyes to see.
Revealed By The Holy Spirit
And he answered them, “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given.” Matthew 13:11
Only those who have “eyes to see” (Luke 10:23) can truly appreciate the gift that baby Jesus is to the world. God reveals himself to those who have been seeking Him, like Anna and Simeon, but it is only by the Holy Spirit that they knew who to wait for (Luke 2:26). This is a hard lesson. God is completely inclusive in his invitation to know the secret of the kingdom of God: he included his plan for Christ in the Scriptures, announced Jesus’ birth through the Magi, shepherds, and King Herod, and even today we nationally celebrate Christmas every year as a reminder of God’s fulfillment and his mystery revealed in Christ. Well, we at least celebrate the gift-giving part of Christmas.
Yet his invitation is also selective: “To you has been given the secret of the kingdom of God, but for those outside everything is in parables, so that ’they may indeed see but not perceive, and may indeed hear but not understand, lest they should turn and be forgiven’” (Mark 4:11-12). God is the one who gives eyes to see and ears to hear, so that none may boast. And the fact that a holy and perfect God would reveal himself to any sinful man or woman, let alone a worldwide church, is a miracle in itself. God has offered the gift of Christ to everyone, but only those who can recognize Jesus as a gift can receive him.
Revealed In You
“The mystery hidden for ages and generations but now revealed to his saints. To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.” Colossians 1:26-27
The mystery hidden for ages has been revealed! God’s salvation invitation even included the Gentiles, those who weren’t even seeking Christ at all. He includes all the nations in his plan to “make known how great…are the riches of the glory of this mystery.” No one can know God except God himself, which is why Christ was born, lived a perfect life, died to kill our sins, and rose to give us his own Spirit:
But, as it is written, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him”— these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. For who knows a person's thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual. …1 Corinthians 2:9-16
I know what you’re getting for Christmas this year. There’s this baby that will be born, and he will save you and everyone who believes in him from their sins. Sorry kids, Santa isn’t real. But good news! God is. He came as baby Jesus, and he will come again. God hasn’t revealed to us the timing of when Christ will come again, but some things we have to leave to the Lord: “The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law” (Deuteronomy 29:29).
May the mystery of Christ revealed to us belong to us and our children forever.
Did you ever peek at your Christmas presents?
Do you like surprises? Does Jesus' birth feel like a joyous celebration or old news?
Put yourself in the place of the shepherds in the field or the wise men. How would you react to the angel's proclamation and seeing the star? Would you be excited about celebrating that news each year?