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The Christmas Gospel: The Father's Love in Sending His Son

Every year my wife and I have the same conversation about Christmas lights, you can count on it. I’m sure it’s the kind of thing our kids may reminisce about when they’re older. The conversation is about when it is appropriate to hang up Christmas lights. I grew up in a military home where we would never turn on Christmas lights until after Remembrance Day. We were taught that it is a sign of respect for the remembrance of people who laid down their lives for the freedoms we have today. But I am learning that not everyone grew up this way or has this particular conviction, and that if some people had their way, we would get home on October 31st take off costumes and start putting up lights.

I still believe that Remembrance Day and Christmas should not be confuddled in their meaning. But as my wife and I have had this conversation over the years, this year I have noticed something that Remembrance Day and Christmas share in common. But before I get into the common thread that they share, I want to share with you the story of a parent who relates to us the hardships of a child entering military service. 1 


Letting go is hard for parents. It’s especially challenging when your child leaves for military service.

Since his birth, I saw or talked to my son daily. I cared for his needs, protected him, and guided him through life’s ups and downs. When I learned that he joined the Army, I wasn’t prepared. I didn’t expect it and I wasn’t ready to let go…

I tried to prepare as he left for Basic Combat Training. I’m sure I was annoying at times. I treated him like a baby as he trained to become a warrior and defender of freedom.

I worked on wrapping my mind around his new role. I failed to realize that I had a new role too. When he departed for his first duty station in Germany, the idea of “letting go” was much easier said than done.


As I read this story, I tried to put myself in this parent’s position of sending their child into a dangerous place where harm and even death were much closer than if they were safe and sound with us at home. When my child is in a difficult, painful place, my desire as a parent is to intervene on their behalf, to help, to intercede for them, give them guidance and encouragement in the ways of Christ. But if I ever sent them off to war, not only are they out on their own where that role as a parent will be diminished either way, but then add to that the potential for great harm and as a parent that’s a reality difficult to come to terms with.

But why, on Christmas eve, a day of joy and celebration of Emmanuel, God with us, do I speak of parents sending their children off to war? Because the common thread of Remembrance Day and Christmas Day that I mentioned earlier is that just as we remember the sons and daughters who went off to war, sacrificing comfort, stability, and even their very lives for the sake of others, so on Christmas Day we remember God the Father who sent his only Son into the war-zone of planet earth, to give up the comforts of heaven, the stability of His unchallenged authority in the heavenly places, and even to sacrifice his very life for the sake of others. For the sake of you and me.

What I want us to consider this Christmas Day is the incredible love of God the Father in giving this wonderous gift of his Son to the world.


In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the means of forgiveness for our sins.

1 John 4:9-10


At home on our Christmas tree, we have an ornament of Jesus Christ as a baby and it serves as a reminder for when we’re looking at the presents under the tree. We say, “What’s the most important gift of Christmas?” Which is a bit of a misleading question because the gift isn’t a ‘what’, the gift is a ‘who’, the most important gift of Christmas is the gift that God the Father has given to the world, the gift of His only Son. Gifts are meant to be a physical manifestation and representation of love (although consumerism is messing with that meaning). And God demonstrated his love for the world in giving this wonderous gift of His Son.

God has so completely and fully shown his love to us that he gave us his Son so that we might live through Him. When we compared Jesus’ coming into the world as a father sending a child to war, it is because the earth that Jesus has come to is very much a war zone, most of the time a literal war zone, but even in the incredibly rare moments of political peace and relative stability in the world’s history, the planet is always, continually at war with God spiritually. Sin means rejecting God and choosing to be master of our own lives apart from Him, and that has brought such destruction, desolation, damage and devastation, and most of all death, physically, but also spiritually, separating us from God.

In God’s great love for his creation in this desperate situation he has sent his Son at Christmas time into this war-zone of earth so that we who were spiritually dead might live through him. The light of Jesus has shone into such great spiritual darkness. It was so great in fact, that there was nothing we could do to convince God to give this gift.

You have probably heard the song “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” once or twice in the last few weeks. The very well-known line in that song goes, “he sees you when you’re sleeping, he knows when you’re awake, he knows if you’ve been bad or good, so be good for goodness sake.”

The message is, if you want Santa to bring you presents, you have to be good. As a parent that’s a mighty tempting proposition to tell the kids in order to convince better behavior, but it also doesn’t reflect God’s gift giving in the slightest. Santa’s gift giving only happens if you’re good, but God gives the gift of His Son purely as an act of his own grace and love for His creation.

We have not earned Christmas with our love for God, but God has shown His abundance of grace and love for a world that has not loved Him. The Father in his plan and foreknowledge knows exactly what pain, agony and distress await His Son at the hands of a world that doesn’t love Him, and yet so that you may live and so that I may live, because God so loved the world, He has sent His Son and His Son goes in joyful agreement with the Father’s love.

Jesus, 1 John tells us, comes into the world as the means of forgiveness for our sins. I’ve seen some pretty generous gift givers in my life, but none that comes even close to this. He has paid the penalty which we deserve, he took my transgressions and he took your transgressions upon himself and to the cross so that we would no longer be bound by the fear, guilt, shame or death of sin. The gift of God in Jesus Christ throughout the whole year, every single day, is that He has freed all who call on his name from slavery. Because He rose again on the third day, He lives today to intercede on behalf of all who put our trust in Him. He is God’s gift to the world that truly keeps on giving.

Now, my kids are very excited to open Christmas presents tomorrow as I’m sure most are. The presents we have for them don’t just sit under the tree, the excitement in is the anticipation of opening them, in order for the gifts to bring joy, they need to be unwrapped and opened. But I’m afraid it’s pretty common to hear about the gift of God the Father in sending His Son into the world and for many to leave that gift unwrapped and unexplored.

 How do we actually open God’s gift? It is a work of God’s Spirit by faith, by trusting in the One whom we sing about this time of year, that what is sung of him and more importantly what is read concerning him from the Word of God is true. That I am in spiritual darkness and He is the light. That I am dead in sin and He is the life. That I am born into this conflict of the world, and He is the Prince of Peace. That I have not and cannot earn the grace and the love of God, and that my ability to stand before God is only through the gift of Christ.

You might believe, whether knowingly or just within your subconscious that God does not know or that He cannot forgive the things that I have done, the many ways that I have wronged him and wronged other people. But I want to close by giving you the gift of assurance that God’s gift of His Son is more than sufficient, in fact, the gift of his Son is exceedingly abundant. Your wrongs, though great, are not greater than God’s grace. Your sins, though many, do not exceed or outstrip the power of his love. The darkness you’ve experienced in your life, though deep, does not and cannot overcome the light of Jesus Christ. But it is for those who will by faith, by the working of the Holy Spirit, unwrap and open the gift of Christ who repent and believe who receive these wonderous things that are only found in Him.

Don’t leave God’s gift unwrapped.



 1 Letting Go of Your Child to the Military is Hard – This Can Help. Sandboxx News Article, July 8, 2021 (accessed December 19, 2023)