Suppose you were offered your choice of two gifts.
One was impressively wrapped in expensive paper, with a large red bow, and the label of an exclusive store was attached to the package. The second gift was wrapped in newspaper, yellowed with age. Which package would you choose?
Most people would select the more attractive package. Since the elaborate wrappings were expensive, many people would assume that the gift must be much more costly than the wrappings, and therefore more desirable. Because the second gift was wrapped in old newspaper, most would assume the gift must be cheap and greatly inferior to the first package. After all, if the gift giver could not afford proper wrapping paper, he probably could not afford to buy an upscale gift.
However, what if that faded old newspaper had some significance? Perhaps its headline announced the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, or the first American's walk on the moon? Suppose the newspaper was significant only to the giver of the gift and the one who would receive it? Perhaps the picture of the intended recipient graced the front page, or a paragraph lauded the recipient's accomplishments. If that was the case, and no other record of the person's accomplishments existed, then the recipient would be the loser if he bypassed the newspaper-covered gift and chose the expensive-looking one.
Jesus came to earth wrapped in human flesh. Isaiah 53:2 tells us, "He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him" (NIV). Verse 3 states the response of most people to Him: "He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not" (NIV).
Like the gift wrapped in old newspaper, Jesus was not the popular selection. Very few realized that within the wrappings of flesh, God's most precious gift, His Son, waited to be chosen. The outward wrappings, beaten and bloodied, made many appalled because they did not realize that His broken body bore the suffering intended for them. The blood that flowed from His wounds would bring salvation to any who would choose God's gift. But Jesus' "appearance was so disfigured beyond that of any man and his form marred beyond human likeness" (Isaiah 52:14), and only a tiny minority found value in Him.
If Jesus had come in His kingly robes, riding on a white horse, and followed by the armies of heaven--as He someday will--many more might have chosen Him.
Instead, they preferred the more attractively wrapped gift, a political savior. Throughout the centuries since, the majority of people have selected the false messiahs that appealed to their earthly desires. Eventually, they will choose the enemy's counterfeit, the Antichrist, a far more impressive leader than the unattractive Savior.
However, for those who recognize the true beauty of the Savior's wounds and their significance, the impressive appearance of the counterfeit holds no attraction. They willingly cast aside all earthly treasures to cling to God's priceless gift. When they meet Jesus face to face, they will not regret their choice.
Which gift will you choose? The gorgeously wrapped one prepared by the enemy, or the eternally precious gift of God's Son?
© by Howard W. Stevens