Under the Tree: Eight Gifts Jesus Gives You at the Cross
November 27, 2019
by Dr. J. Vernon McGee
Who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness—by whose stripes you were healed. -1 Peter 2:24
Will you have a Christmas tree at your house this year? A towering fir or pine, festooned with lights and tinsel and towering over a mound of brightly wrapped gifts? How did this tradition make its way into the Christian celebration of Jesus’ birth?
No one has a clear answer. Some connect it with ancient Rome’s practice of placing an evergreen bough over the door during the pagan festival of Saturnalia. Some tie it to tree-worshipping Druids. Still other theories relate it to a legend about Jesus being born in a forest, covered in ice and snow, that then burst into bloom.
So, bottom line, we don’t know the historical basis for the Christmas tree. But in spite of all this, here’s something to take to heart at this season: God has His own Christmas tree.
God’s Christmas tree is not as photogenic as the department store tree—bedecked in colorful ornaments, tinsel, and twinkle lights—but it is far more beautiful. Have you guessed it?
God’s Christmas tree is the cross of Christ. In fact, the proper name for the cross is “tree.” In one of the first great sermons ever given we read, “The God of our fathers raised up Jesus whom you murdered by hanging on a tree” (Acts 5:30). Peter wrote in his first epistle: “Who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness—by whose stripes you were healed” (1 Peter 2:24).
Let’s take a closer look at God’s Christmas tree.
What’s Underneath God’s Christmas Tree?
Like a traditional tree tucked in the corner of a family’s living room, underneath God’s Christmas tree are gifts for His children. Though they’re not wrapped with paper and ribbon, they are of infinite beauty. They come straight from heaven and were purchased with the precious blood of Christ.
Because these gifts are spiritual, you might think they aren’t practical for today. But, my friend, in each one something vital and relevant for you in your current circumstance waits for you.
If you are God’s child, then you have the gift of salvation. We often think of salvation as being something in the future, that it’s a package labeled “Do not open until eternity.” We think of salvation in terms of golden streets, crowns, white robes, and harps in our hands. But the salvation God gives is for right now, and it comes with gifts for you. They’re right there with your name on them underneath His Christmas tree, and you can open them now. You don’t have to wait till Christmas!
We are never more like God than when we are generous gift-givers. More than any other gift, did you know that God is most pleased when you give Him yourself?
Read Romans 12:1-2 and ask yourself how you can be a living gift to God today.
I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.