Your Eternal Gift Does Not Lie Beneath Your Christmas Tree

“She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus,
for he will save his people from their sins.”
Matthew 1:21, ESV


“Open the letter, it contains your invitation,” or similar words, are often printed on envelopes to excite interest in the contents of a letter. Matthew’s Gospel has printed all over it an invitation to meet and follow the Messiah, Jesus Christ. How wonderful to read through this Gospel at this time of the year where Christians worldwide turn their attention to the coming of the Savior into the world! We will take a few minutes today to turn our direct focus to the importance of Jesus’ birth for our lives, families, friends, and the world.
Ancestry is everything
Matthew begins his Gospel account with a first-century list of Jesus’ earthly legacy. Even a casual reader of Matthew’s Gospel will notice that it begins differently than the other Gospel books. Mark opens his book with a simple statement, Luke uses a first-person preface where he explains his purpose and methods. John’s opening traces Jesus’ beginnings to eternity and then presents the incarnation without referring to His conception and birth!
However, Matthew begins with Jesus’ genealogy and develops key themes between 1:1 and 2:23. He introduces such motifs as “the son of David, the fulfillment of prophecy, the supernatural origin of Jesus the Messiah, and the Father’s sovereign protection of his Son in order to bring him to Nazareth and accomplish the divine plan of salvation from sin” (EBC). Friends, this attention to detail marks Jesus’ birth as something to examine carefully. The audience is everything, and Matthew was making sure that Jews saw in Jesus’ origins the seeds of what would grow to become the life and ministry of Israel’s long-awaited Messiah.

Take a moment to look around the room at your family members. If you are alone this day, then bring to mind times when you were near your kinfolk, perhaps at a reunion. Surely, most of us are proud of our family heritage. However, there is more to consider!

Life Quote

You and I know that pedigree does not necessarily equate to follow me! Matthew takes care to provide us with abundant biblical and theological evidence that Jesus is the Messiah and that we may receive new life from Him.

Truths that transform our lives today
There are a number of themes that Matthew develops in the book that hold implications for our lives today. First, he writes that Jesus Christ’s birth happened a certain way. Jesus’ divine origin was a key Christological proof (1:18; Jesus “Christ,” i.e. Messiah). Secondly, the Messiah had a specific mission. The Jews had long awaited the redemption from Roman oppression that Messiah would bring, but Matthew introduces a new idea to them. Jesus came to free people from sin’s shackles (1:21). The meaning of the name “Jesus” also states God’s intent to save through this miraculous, divine birth (“Yahweh is salvation”). Thirdly, the Messiah fulfilled Old Testament prophecy (1:23).

Here is Matthew’s point: “Mary is the virgin; Jesus is her son, Immanuel” (EBC; Isaiah 7:14). Matthew wants his readers to know that Immanuel in Isaiah’s prophecy was a messianic figure and that he will show how Jesus fulfills that role perfectly. He will deliver His people from exile.

Life Quote

Take a break from trying to master your life and give your brokenness to the Life Master. You and I may rejoice to know that our own exile from broken relationships ends when we receive forgiveness of sin and new life with Jesus Christ!


Matthew provides his readers with the genealogy of King Jesus who originated from humble human origins but fulfilled a Divine eternal purpose. He traces the Messiah’s line of descent from a particular ancestor, Abraham, so that we may see evidence of His deep Jewish roots. He also shows that Jesus is a descendant of David, which should help us to recognize Him as a rightful candidate for the messianic throne.
Please do not place false hope today in what present lies beneath your Christmas tree. Your eternal gift suffered and died for you on, what I will term, the Christ-tree, then was raised on the third day so that you may have life and have it more abundantly than you ever may imagine!

Family Activity

You may print a copy of this devotional and put it inside an envelope. Print the words “Open on Christmas Day” on the envelope, and then place it beneath your Christmas tree. Gather your family, at some time, on Christmas Day and invite a family member to read aloud the devotional. Give thanks to God for the Savior when you finish reading the “letter.”
May your paths be straight,
Larry C. Ashlock