Articles & News

The Surprising Gift of Christmas

November 29, 2018 Manger showing a baby

By Dr. J. Vernon McGee

The Christmas story: What is it and how did it all begin? Some think Christmas is connected somehow with snow and fir trees and festivities. Really, it has nothing to do with these things—though Christmas trees and lights and gifts are lovely, and they have their place when in their proper perspective.

The real Christmas story is that a Savior is born!

To be more specific, the real story of Christmas is that by His birth and by His sacrificial life, Jesus came to destroy the greatest enemy that you and I have: Death.

In our celebration of Jesus’ birth, we also celebrate the death of death.

Jesus Christ was born into this world to deal with our greatest enemy—the enemy that no doctor, no scientist, no world ruler can deal with because death deals with all of them. When death knocks, everyone must put down whatever they are doing.

Hebrews 9:27-28 reminds us of the sober truth that “it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment, so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation.”

When Jesus comes again to this earth, He will remove death. The last enemy He shall destroy is death. Everyone’s death today is the result of sin.

Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned.
-Romans 5:12

We all sinned in Adam—that is, Adam’s sin carries over to you and me. When a precious little baby dies, certainly it is not because the little one committed a sin, but because it has Adam’s nature. We all have it. We are all born with it. Christ came to deal with that sin nature which no man can deal with on his own.

For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one Man’s obedience many will be made righteous. -Romans 5:19

Just as you and I have inherited a sin nature, death will someday come to us. Unless we come to Jesus Christ, we’re eternally separated from God. He alone can make us righteous. He gives us His righteousness as He takes our sin in His death upon the cross. In His resurrection He justifies us, and today you can be made acceptable in Christ.

Either you have as much right to be in heaven as Jesus Christ has, or you have no right to be there at all. Your right is His right, for He has made over to you all that He is. That’s the only thing that can get you and me to heaven, my friend.

Some two thousand years ago, Jesus took upon Himself our humanity that we might be made righteous in Him and complete in Him.

So that as sin reigned in death, even so grace might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
-Romans 5:21

This Christmas, sing at the top of your voice the glorious truth of all seasons:

Joy to the world! the Lord is come; Let earth receive her King; Let every heart prepare Him room, and heaven and nature sing.   — Isaac Watts

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The birth of Jesus Christ at Bethlehem has more historical significance than any other single event in history. His coming made an unparalleled impact upon the world. No other event in history has had such far-reaching results. The rising of the sun on the eastern horizon in the dark dawn is not any more transforming to the earth than was the coming of the One to the earth in Bethlehem, He who bears the title of “The Bright and Morning Star” and “The Son of Righteousness.”

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More from Dr. McGee

Check out these sermons in the archives at

And download “The Story of Christmas” e-booklet for free at

My Turn

It seems out of place to talk about death at Christmas. Yet, as Dr. McGee said, the greatest gift we have to celebrate is that Jesus came to destroy our greatest enemy: Death.

  1. Consider what Christmas would be like without the gift of eternal life.
  2. If the only thing we had to celebrate at Christmas was good will and generous gift-giving, think how poor we would be. Think of someone who has yet to meet Jesus Christ as Savior. Pray for them to be receptive to the good news of great joy. Ask God to give you opportunity to share with them what Jesus means to you.
  3. Sing/hum/whistle “Joy to the World” this month and thank God for how His life has brought you joy. The Lord has come . . . prepare Him room.