During the Christmas season when we prepare gifts for others in honor of Christ’s birthday, it is important that we take time to receive and to appreciate God’s gift to us.
Read John 3:16
1. How is God’s love expressed?
For whom is God’s gift intended?
Who benefits from this great gift?
Read Matthew 1:18-25; Luke 1:26-38
2. What does an angel of the Lord promise to Mary? To Joseph?
What do you learn about each of them from their responses?
3. How receptive are you to a God-given opportunity or responsibility?
4. Who is this promised child?
What will he do?
Read Luke 2:1-7
5. How do politics and geography affect Mary and Joseph at this time?
– the difficulties of the trip
– the rejection at the inn
– the thoughts of Mary and Joseph at the manger as they recall the angel’s announcement to each of them
Read Matthew 2:1-8
7. Whom do the Magi (Wise Men) seek? Why?
8. Why do the Magi go to Jerusalem? To Herod?
What information do they get from Herod? From what source?
9. Why is Herod upset?
Who does he think the child might be?
10. What is Herod’s plan and how is it frustrated?
Read Matthew 2:9-15
Note: The gifts the Magi bring to honor Jesus may be seen as symbols relating to who he is and why he has come. Gold represents power and royalty. Frankincense is a fragrance that was sprinkled on sacrificial offerings in the Old Testament. Myrrh was part of the anointing oil used to consecrate priests in the temple.
11. What do these gifts add to your understanding of who Jesus is and why he came to earth?
What difference would it make in your life if you were to relate to Jesus Christ as your king, your sacrifice, your priest?
Read this passage:
This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!
And all of this is a gift from God, who brought us back to himself through Christ. And God has given us this task of reconciling people to him. 19For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. And he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation. 20So we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, “Come back to God!” 21For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ. 1 As God’s partners, we beg you not to accept this marvelous gift of God’s kindness and then ignore it.
- 2 Corinthians 5:17–6:1, New Living Translation
12. How does Paul describe:
– those who receive God’s gift and are in Christ (verses 17, 18)?
– what God has done and is doing through Christ (verses 19, 20)?
13. According to the last part of verse 19 through 6:1, what responsibility do Christians have to share God’s gift?
14. If you took one message from this passage personally and made it a priority in your life, what would change for you?
15. If you were to give Jesus a gift today, what gift do you think would be appropriate?
Read aloud together:
How silently, how silently, the wondrous gift is given!
So God imparts to human hearts the blessings of His heaven.
No ear may hear His coming; but in this world of sin,
Where meek souls will receive Him, still the dear Christ enters in...
O holy Child of Bethlehem, descend to us, we pray;
Cast out our sin, and enter in; be born in us today....
O come to us, abide with us, our Lord Immanuel.
– Phillips Brooks, 1867