Unwrapping the Gift
The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
What do you usually do after you have picked out the perfect gift for someone? Do you simply thrust it at them right out of the shopping bag, with the price tags flying and the receipt still stuck to it? As tempting as that is (because it’s just so hard to wait!) we usually take care to choose just how we’re going to present it. We may choose just the right gift bag or wrapping paper because part of the gift is in the presentation.
John 3:16 tells us that "God so loved the world that he gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him would have eternal life." God chose a very special wrapping in which to give us the gift of His Son. According to Psalm 104:2 "He wraps himself in light, as with a garment," but this is certainly not how Jesus showed up! No, in fact God chose a different "wrapping," one much more costly. He, for a time, gave up His garment of light. He went from "wrapped in light" to "wrapped in skin."
Have you ever held a present and once you moved or shook it you could figure out what was in it? While wrapped in flesh, Jesus certainly gave evidence of what was God is like. The Bible says that He was "moved with compassion" for the hurting people around Him. He healed, He comforted, He performed miracles. The Bible also records that he was moved by the misuse of the His temple, giving us a glimpse of His righteous, holy anger.
Ultimately, His outer wrapping was torn. He was beaten, whipped, pierced and cut. His physical wrapping was finally "opened," for gifts are not meant to stay wrapped forever. He didn’t stay inside His mother, Mary, he didn’t stay in His swaddling clothes, neither did He stay in His human skin. But there was still one final wrapping. Just as He was wrapped in cloth when He was born, He was wrapped in linen after His death. And just as all the former wrappings had been shed, this one would be as well.
Mark 15:46 records that Joseph "bought some linen cloth, took down the body, and wrapped it in the linen." What I found extremely interesting was that the Greek word for "wrapped" in this verse comes from a root word which means "bound to the law." For so long, men were bound to continue falling short of keeping the Ten Commandments and to making sacrifices to atone for sins. All of this pointed to man's need for a Savior. The empty grave tells us we are free from death's power. The empty grave clothes remind us that we are no longer bound to the law, making sacrifices with bulls and rams. In Christ we are free! Free from death for eternity, and free from the power of sin in our daily lives even now.
How do you suppose it would feel to give someone a gift, and for them to acknowledge receipt of it but never open it? Wouldn't you feel they had not truly accepted your gift? God wrapped and sent us the gift of Christ. (Though, unlike our hypothetical unopened gift, this Gift has been unwrapped and is in His rightful place. The grave was not powerful enough to hold Him inside and despite his unbelief, man is not able to keep Him in His grave clothes.) However, each of us must acknowledge for ourselves that the gift was for us personally and not just for someone else or the world at large. It is in this way that we truly accept His gift. We must admit our own need for His sacrificial atonement. To truly open and accept this gift is to repent of our sins and make Jesus Lord of our hearts and lives. We can then enjoy the daily gift of freedom from sin's rule, and the unspeakable gift of the assurance of spending eternity with Him.
We are invited to unwrap God’s gift of salvation and freedom found only in Christ, and to share that gift with others. The grave is open, the grave clothes have been cast aside, Christ is alive!
May this Easter find each of us unwrapping and accepting His incredible gift.