Long Walk Part of Gift
One of my favorite stories is about a missionary teacher in Africa. She loved her students, and they loved her.
One day one of the children presented her with a gift – a beautiful seashell. The teacher recognized that this particular shell came only from a certain region of the African coast which was several hours journey from their school.
As she thanked the boy for the gift, she remarked that it must have taken him many hours to walk to the sea, find the shell and then walk back. The little boy replied, “Long walk part of gift.”
Which is another way of saying, the greater the sacrifice, the more precious the gift.
Christmas is about an infinitely precious gift brought about by an infinitely costly sacrifice. The incarnation of Christ carried with it incalculable sacrifice. Consider some of those sacrifices…
1. PHYSICAL LIMITATIONS.
The infinite and eternal God became man. The omnipotent Creator of all became the most helpless of creatures, a newborn baby.
Jesus experienced what it means to have a human body, to grow, to age, to be hungry and thirsty and tired.
Luke 2:40 describes Jesus’ growth: And the child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom. And the favor of God was upon him. Later in v. 52: And Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man.
Of course, He never ceased being God. But the path toward our redemption required Him to become a man, and in His humanity, to assume the limitations of humankind.
2. TEMPTATION. Because Jesus Christ had a human nature, He was tempted to sin. He never succumbed, but He was tempted. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Hebrews 4:15
Some people think that, just because Jesus never sinned, His temptation wasn’t real. But remember that the godlier the person, the stronger the temptation must be to be real. If you give in to temptation within a few minutes, it doesn’t take much to make you fall, does it?
Jesus, holy and perfect in every way, was really tempted. And so, the inducement to sin would have had to be immense.
3. BEING JUDGED GUILTY EVEN THOUGH HE WAS INNOCENT.
Jesus was 100% innocent all the time. But He was judged by human justice and by God’s justice as guilty. The Father looked at Him as if He had really broken divine law in all the ways you and I have broken it. God the Father looked at Him across the bar of His holy law, and saw His Son as a sinner, the worst kind. Someone who committed idolatry and murder and adultery. Someone who stole and lied and coveted. A child abuser and a terrorist. Jesus was condemned for all these things. Yet He was innocent.
2 Corinthians 5:21 explains: For our sake he [the Father] made him [Jesus] to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. Galatians 3:13 says Christ became a curse for us.
All of us have experienced rejection of one kind or another, and it hurts! But you’d think that the Perfect Man, the best person who ever lived, would never be rejected. That He’d always get picked first for the team, and that people would always want to hang out with Him and be His friend.
But John 1:11 says: He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. These were His people, the Jews. These were His creation. He was their Messiah. But they rejected Him.
Remember how Pontius Pilate presented two condemned men to the crowd: “You can have Barabbas, a robber, insurrectionist, and murderer. Or you can have Jesus.” They picked Barabbas and rejected Christ.
But that wasn’t the worst of it. Remember Jesus’ cry on the cross: And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Matthew 27:46
The Father turned His face away from the Son.
5. SUFFERING AND DEATH.
For you and me, death is inevitable. But our Savior did not have to die. For Him it was a choice.
The cross was God’s plan before time began. Jesus always knew that the path He began in Bethlehem would inevitably to Calvary. “Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But for this purpose I have come to this hour.” John 12:27
For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit. Isaiah 53:6
“Long walk part of gift.” The greater the sacrifice, the more precious the gift.
“Thanks be to God for His inexpressible gift.” 2 Corinthians 9:15