Think about the best Christmas gift that you’ve ever received. If you’re like me, your memory probably goes to a gift that you received as a child. I have a twin brother and a younger sister, so our most exciting gift every year was often one that we shared. One year it was a ping-pong table in the basement. One year it was a trampoline in the backyard. But the absolute best was checking our garage one year to find a new Kawasaki ATV (or as we call them in west Georgia, “4-wheelers”).
We were ecstatic. It was freezing cold outside that day, but suddenly we didn’t care. We spent a large portion of the day peeling through the hay field behind our house, equipped with thick winter gloves and helmets at the recommendation of my Mom.
Maybe you have a memory like that. A gift that sticks so clearly in your mind that it’s become your favorite over the years. We’ve got one more week before Christmas, and as we await the coming of Jesus in this Advent season, it’s fitting that we look one more time at a reason that Jesus came to earth. We give each other good gifts on Christmas. But Jesus came to give the best gift of all.
John 3:16 is likely the most popular and memorized verse of the Bible: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.” But sometimes what we overlook is that John 3:16 is simply the beginning of Jesus’ teaching on eternal life. It’s everywhere in the book of John!
Consider John 10:10. Jesus is teaching and says that “the thief comes to kill steal and destroy. But I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” Coming to bring life was clearly one of the reasons that Jesus came.
But what did He mean when He said “eternal life”? Often our thoughts go to Heaven. Heaven is going to be great! But Jesus’ offer of eternal life goes much deeper than a ticket to Heaven. In John 17, He’s talking to the Father and in doing so explains why eternal life is such a good gift: “And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.”
Jesus’ gift of eternal life is so good because what He offers is a relationship with the one true God! This is what makes Heaven worth waiting for. It’s the best gift that anyone could ever receive. And Jesus makes it clear that this gift is free. If you trust in Jesus’ death for the payment of your sins, you will receive eternal life. We receive Jesus’ righteousness as our own, and we are reconciled to God!
This gift is what gives our lives purpose as Christians. When we look to the Bible, it’s so clear that Jesus was living according to the purpose set in place by His Father (John 5:16). In light of this, the question that we have to ask ourselves during this Christmas season is, “What is my purpose?”
Recently, we conducted a study of the faith and worldview of Gen Z with our friends at the Barna group. One of the questions that we asked the students we surveyed was, “What is your ultimate goal in life?” Any guesses on the most popular answer? By a landslide, 51% of teenagers answered “to be happy”.
Now of course, there’s nothing wrong with being happy! But to name this as your ultimate goal in life is indicative of a deeper issue. The deeper issue here is that there is a growing lack of clarity regarding purpose and meaning in the next generation. And isn’t Christmas the perfect time to tell someone that their purpose is found in this free gift from Jesus?
So no matter who you are, the time to live out your purpose is right now. As our friend Greg Stier says, “Life with God starts now, and lasts forever!” Jesus came so that we could have life, and have it abundantly. It’s the best gift that’s ever been given. Who do you know that needs that free gift this Christmas?
Read more from our Advent series:
Check out our YouTube video on eternal life