There are some of us … who think [to] ourselves, If I had only been there! How quick I would have been to help the Baby. I would have washed His linens. How happy I would have been to go with the shepherds to see the Lord lying in the manger! Yes, we would. We say that because we know how great Christ is, but if we had been there at that time, we would have done no better than the people of Bethlehem. … Why don't we do it now? We have Christ in our neighbor. — Martin Luther (1483–1546)
Christmas can be likened to a Christmas gift, where the giver is God, the gift is Jesus, and the recipient is both the whole world and each of us personally. The analogy is based on what is probably the best known and most important verse in the Bible, John 3:16. I’d heard the analogy many times over the years and even used it myself, but the following email from Paloma Sridhar in Bangalore, India, added a surprising twist: I had set out to teach John 3:16 to my youngest sister, Rosie, six, but instead came to a milestone realization myself. Our conversation went something like this:
“Did you know, Rosie, that it only takes one verse from the Bible to explain to people how they can be sure they’ll go to heaven when they die?” “Which one?” Rosie asked. “John 3:16. It goes like this—‘For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son ….’”
“I know that one!” Rosie interrupted.
“All right then. Can you say it for me?”
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only forgotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. John 3:16.”
“Very good! But God doesn’t have an only forgotten…”
I stopped myself mid-sentence. How easy it is to get so caught up in the rush of daily living that we don’t give Jesus so much as a passing thought! How true—and how sad, especially on His birthday! Just think how you would feel if on your birthday everyone partied and gave one another gifts, but left you sitting alone in a corner unnoticed. This Christmas, let’s remember to thank God for His incomparable gift to the world, Jesus.