God gave Himself as a gift in the incarnation of Jesus Christ. The recognition and response to God’s gift drew a variety of reactions. From joyful praise and worship on the one hand to violence and killing on the other. Remember Mary, who recognised Jesus as God’s gift of the Saviour of the world and joyfully responded in faith: “May it be to me as you have said.”
The wise men led by the star travelled a long distance, to see the king of the world. They were not disappointed when the star led them to a manger. The wise men knew where the treasure was. They were willing to disobey King Herod by not revealing the place of Jesus’ birth, as he wanted to kill baby Jesus. The King, blinded by pride and power, failed to recognise God’s gift in Jesus and responded to exclude others employing violence. Pride separates us from the life of God, who is love.
Jesus came to heal and restore ruptured relationships; to bestow the gift of shalom, wholeness, to those who lack it, bringing not only physical health but renewed participation in the life of God.
Many of the people Jesus healed came into one of the excluded categories. These people were considered impure and not fit to be in the community of God’s people. Jesus gave the gift of healing to the blind, deaf, dumb, to lepers who were socially excluded, to a woman with an issue of blood. People thought this condition made her unclean as well as anything she sat on, or anyone or anything she touched, unclean too. Jesus healed a disabled woman ‘whom Satan had bound for eighteen years.’ And when Jesus touched the dead and raised them to life, people must have considered Jesus as unclean, yet he healed and restored them to fellowship. We become people of God by faith through the grace of God revealed in Jesus Christ. Have you recognised and received God’s gift in Jesus, the gift of participation in the life of God?