Lent Day 33 - Jesus, Not Salvation Is God’s Greatest Gift to Us

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

He did not even spare His own Son but offered Him up for us all; how will He not also with Him grant us everything? - Romans 8:32

3 Grace to you and peace from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ, 4 who gave Himself for our sins to rescue us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father. 5 To whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen. - Galatians 1:3-5

Jesus is the greatest gift there is. Yet as soon as we hear this statement, we’re apt to collapse it into a statement about some other gift, like salvation. Being given Jesus, in our minds, quickly morphs into being given forgiveness, or rescue, or eternal life. Jesus himself, the gift who perfectly embodies God’s generosity and goodness, gets bumped to the third page.

The Gospels don’t do that. From his Incarnation to his Ascension, Jesus Christ puts the liberality and largesse of God on display. It is not just at the Cross, or even in the Resurrection, that Jesus represents the grace, the gift-giving-ness, of God to us. In every miracle, every parable—simply by being in the world at all—Jesus is proclaiming, “God is good, he loves giving, and I’m here, among other things, to prove it.” Wherever we look, Jesus is talking about sharing, enacting, and ultimately being the Father’s gift to us.

For all this, the Cross and Resurrection remain its most astonishing expression. “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son” (John 3:16). “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45). “The Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to rescue us” (Gal. 1:3–4). Notice that in each of these texts, the gift is Jesus, not freedom, forgiveness, justification, adoption, or whatever. Of course those things are wonderful, and of course, God gives them as well. But the logic of Paul’s rhetorical question in Romans 8:32—“He who did not spare his own Son . . . how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?”—is that Jesus himself, rather than anything else in creation, is the most costly and bountiful gift God could give. If we have been given Jesus, we will be given “all things” on his coattails.

Jesus is the greatest gift there is. Not as a means to an end, but as the end itself, the source of all joy, the ultimate demonstration of God’s goodness and generosity. 

Andrew Wilson is teaching pastor at Kings Church London and author most recently of The Life We Never Expected.