The Reason-of-Christmas stood before a disheartened woman at a well in Samaria (John 4) and said these words, “If only you knew the gift of God...” I would love to go back in a time machine to view that scene; a snapshot just doesn’t do it justice. I’d love to hear the soft, gentleness of Jesus’ voice as he spoke, see the look on his tender face, and observe the openness of his body language. The words on a page seem so matter of fact. Yet Jesus saw deeply into the well of this woman’s soul. He knew her brokenness, her shame, her suffering, her sadness. He recognized the wounds that had scarred her life; understood her search for satisfaction. She was so very thirsty; and, Jesus, also knew, he possessed exactly what she needed.
“If only...” How many times do you think she had uttered those words? “If only I’d made better choices...” “If only I’d not gone to...” “If only I hadn’t picked up that first...” “If only he’d been...” How many of us have uttered those words? “If only...” and life would be perfect. Not really. The woman at the well was a contradiction in beginning again. Trying and failing, at least five times, in the hope of change; but, trying and remaining unsatisfied. Those words had to have cut deeply as Jesus uttered them. They were simply a reminder of what could never be...after all, “you can’t change a leopard’s spots (Jer.13:23).” Have you ever related? Have you ever told yourself that your situation is an impossibility – it will never change – you will never change?
HOWEVER, the rest of the sentence tells a different story. Jesus’ words address the possibility of change... “If only you knew the gift of God...” What was Jesus offering her? John 7:37-39 expounds. If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.” By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him...would receive (please keep in mind this is not an exhaustive list):
The gift of God - the fullness of the Holy Spirit - all of Jesus, and more, can dwell in me. There is no hope of change apart from the Holy Spirit who abides inside of us. Think about what His gift provides for the believer in Jesus:
- He counsels (John 16:7)...in Greek this word is “parakletos,” meaning to comfort, encourage, exhort. The Holy Spirit is our advocate, our intercessor, our advisor.
- He convicts (John 16:8)...and as a result we avoid judgment, and receive righteousness.
- He guides in all truth (John 16:13)...so we know with confidence that we receive perfect guidance, and what he speaks to us is always truth!
- He sets us free (Romans 8:2)...my chains are gone; I’ve been set free...!
- He gives us life and peace (Romans 8:6)...as in the “abundant life” that Jesus promised (John 10:10).
- He gives us much needed power for victory over sin (Romans 8:11)... “the Spirit of the One who raised Christ Jesus from the dead dwells in me!”
- He offers a spiritual gift, uniquely mine, in which I can serve effectively and glorify God (John 16:14, Romans 12, I Cor 14).
This is the true Gift of Christmas available to any who receive…all of us stuck in the impossible “if only” of life!