The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world came into being through him; yet the world did not know him. He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him. But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God.
(John 1:9-12, NRSV)
Our Christmas gift-giving tradition traces back to the Magi who brought gifts to the baby Jesus (Matthew 2:11). We often hear that these original Christmas gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh were extremely valuable. This is true.
On closer inspection, a valuable gift is certainly recorded here; however, it is not the expensive material items brought by the Magi. Rather, as Simeon understands, the gift is Jesus Himself (Luke 2:29–32).
John describes this gift as “true light” (John 1:9). This gift is not typical but rather a once-in-eternity gift. It is Jesus Himself and a never-ending relationship with God (1:12).
One would expect John’s story to mimic the Nativity and have a happy ending: the human race embraces Jesus with enthusiasm and thankfulness. But no. Instead, John reads like a tragedy: “He came to what was his own, and [they] did not accept him” (1:11). Humanity, which desperately needed this gift, rejected it! Think of the insult to the Giver. Consider the loss to those who rejected it.
The news is not entirely bad. The gift is still available. John makes it clear that there is still time to accept God’s gracious gift. We need only believe in Jesus and His work to receive Him, and we will be part of His eternal family (1:12).
Many have accepted and many have rejected this gift. We would be foolish to reject a gracious gift from a well-meaning friend. If we need transportation and someone offers us a car, we would accept it with thankful hearts. How much more should we accept a gift that satisfies the needs of our hearts and souls from one who incomprehensively loves us?
Christmas is a wonderful time of gift giving and receiving. Let us always remember that the greatest gift was lying in a manger two thousand years ago. The choice remains: accept Him or reject Him?