The idea of baby Jesus doesn’t sit well with our culture. Much less does the grownup on the cross supposedly providing a sacrifice for the sin for which we cannot atone. I believe the deity of Jesus is the single greatest stumbling block to following Christianity. Yet, we are barreling down on the day we’ve designated to celebrate His birth. Tragically, it makes sense that we latched on to the bringing of gifts and have conveniently forgotten the rest of the story. We focus on a minor detail and miss the plot. Gifts, very valuable ones, were brought, yes, but because they were designated for the baby Messiah. However, the more important fact is that God had sent Himself down onto this earth to save a people in desperate need of saving, because He cared that much.

What was the best gift you ever received? What comes to mind for me are the simple gifts people gave me like teaching me how to drive a manual transmission car, intentionally spending time with me, giving themselves to show they love me. I’ve received much throughout my life, more than a significant many, but none of the physical presents are memorable today. On the first Christmas, we try to get the story backwards. The real gift was God giving Himself to the world as a baby. It was a humble box, the swaddling cloth and manger in a barn. It was inauspicious, boring even, but God is rarely about being flashy. No, the best gift was God literally giving us Himself in the form of a baby, Jesus.

Was Jesus really God? I’m not going into apologetics to get you to believe. Honestly, many of the miracles performed were being performed over the known world during this time. Jesus was not the only show in town. There were plenty of people claiming to be the Messiah and there are still even today. There are many people who were executed on the crucifix, even people who came back from the dead. What serves to differentiate the historical Jesus from other messiahs and magicians is that Jesus didn’t die twice. He was the only man to die, resurrect, but never die again. Instead, He ascended up into the clouds. I’m not telling you, skeptical friend, that He was absolutely God, but maybe. Just maybe He was.

Jesus’ morals. I think we can all agree with the example set forth by Jesus. So, let’s emulate Him this holiday season. Rather than throwing worthless possessions at people, Jesus sat down with society’s rejects and His loved ones alike and invested in their lives. He gave His time, His heart, and let everyone know they were valuable, loved and deeply. He didn’t need gifts. He gave Himself. And all of Him.