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Christmas: Does the Wrapping Really Matter?

As Christmas nears, is all your gift wrapping done? And does the wrapping really matter?

By the way, Americans use 4.6 million pounds of wrapping paper every year (most of it from Christmas). Does that seem like a waste to you, or do you think that’s a vital part of gift giving? Is wrapping really necessary? Why bother with the package—isn’t it the content that counts?

A few years ago, my dad got fed up with the cost of greeting cards. So, when he sent me birthday money, it was usually an odd amount. Instead of $25 or $50, it was $28.50 or $53. He simply added to his gift the cost of a card and put the check in a plain envelope. Make sense? Who cares about the card or the wrapping paper, right?

Let’s consider the question from a different angle. Did the wrapping matter in the context of the greatest giver and greatest gift of all time? In John 3:16, we see both the greatest giver and the greatest gift of all time:

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” (John 3:16, NASB)

Greater than the treasure of the magi was the treasure of the manger. And when it came to the greatest gift of all time, it turns out the wrapping was of the utmost importance. After all, the package introduces the gift to the receiver. So, let’s be reminded of four ways the indescribable gift of Jesus was wrapped.


“The package introduces the gift to the receiver.”


#1 – The ultimate gift was wrapped in swaddling clothes, displaying His humanity.

And she gave birth to her firstborn son; and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.” (Luke 2:7, NASB)

“Swaddling clothes” just means strips of cloth. What a gift wrapping for God in the flesh! Isn’t it a mind blower that Jesus was wrapped in swaddling clothes and placed in a manger? The King of glory sleeping in a common feeding trough?

From the splendor of heaven to the squalor of earth. From the corridors of eternity to the constraints of time and space. From the privileges of deity to the problems of humanity. From the riches of glory to the rags of poverty. God the Son was wrapped in cloths and placed in a manger.

An unlikely package for an indescribable gift! The wrapper was important; in fact, it was the sign given to the shepherds (Luke 2:12). But that is only one way the gift of Jesus was presented.

#2 – The ultimate gift was wrapped with a towel, displaying His servanthood.

Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.” (John 13:3-5, NIV)

Again, what an unthinkable adornment for the King of kings. Yet it was intentional:

“For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:45, NASB)

I guess the wrapper was important. So important, in fact, that Jesus wants us to imitate Him in taking the posture of a servant (see Philippians 2:1-11). However we choose to do it, we must wrap ourselves with the towel and basin of servanthood as Jesus did. The wrapper is important.


“We must wrap ourselves with the towel and basin of servanthood as Jesus did.”


#3 – The ultimate gift was wrapped in a linen sheet, displaying His suffering.

So they took the body of Jesus and bound it in linen wrappings with the spices, as is the burial custom of the Jews.” (John 19:40, NASB)

The best gift of all time was eventually wrapped in grave clothes. This is the place the Bethlehem story goes that we like to avoid. Referring to Jesus’ death, the old man Simeon prophesied to Mary just days after Jesus’ birth, “A sword will pierce even your own soul” (Luke 2:35a, NASB).

#4 – The ultimate gift is wrapped in glory and honor, displaying His majesty.

Consider the following two passages of Scripture:

“Praise the Lord, my soul Lord my God, you are very great; you are clothed with splendor and majesty. The Lord wraps himself in light as with a garment.” (Psalm 104:1-2b, NIV)

”And in the middle of the lampstands I saw one like a son of man, clothed in a robe reaching to the feet, and girded across His chest with a golden sash.” (Revelation 1:13, NASB)

What glorious gift wrap for the indescribable gift! No more strips of stable cloth. No more foot-washing towels. And certainly no more linen grave clothes. Jesus is wrapped in glory, power, majesty, beauty, strength, and honor—the apparel of the King of kings and Lord of lords.


“Jesus is wrapped in glory, power, majesty, beauty, strength, and honor—the apparel of the King of kings and Lord of lords.”


Making Us a Gift

Again, not only did God give us the perfect gift, but it was a gift that was perfectly wrapped. The wrapping is important.

And He’s not done with the gift wrapping.

Here’s the best part. God wants to wrap you to present to Himself. As Isaiah 61:10 (NASB) puts it,

“I will rejoice greatly in the LORD, my soul will exult in my God; for He has clothed me with garments of salvation, He has wrapped me with a robe of righteousness.”

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