The story is familiar. At Christmas, we remember and celebrate Jesus’ birth:

For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” (Luke 2:11-12, ESV).

Did you get that? “Unto you is born…” As my pastor (Russell Howard, McGregor Baptist Church) said this week, Jesus was born for you.

Chances are, if you’re reading this, you know there is more to Christmas than presents and candy canes, Santa Claus and snowmen. But have you really absorbed and accepted the fact that Jesus came into this world just for you?

John 3:16 is probably the most familiar scripture reference, and maybe you’ve memorized it. Perhaps you’ve even heard someone suggest putting your own name in it. When you do, it makes the truth of Christmas very personal. Try it:

“For God so loved YOU (insert your name), that he gave his only Son, that if YOU (your name) believe(s) in him, YOU should not perish but have eternal life.”

The Message translation explains this idea even more clearly:

“This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again. Anyone who trusts in him is acquitted; anyone who refuses to trust him has long since been under the death sentence without knowing it. And why? Because of that person’s failure to believe in the one-of-a-kind Son of God when introduced to him” (v. 16-18).

In the middle of opening gifts, feasting on Christmas dinner, and sharing greetings with family near and far, ponder the greatest gift ever given, and remember that Jesus was born for you. Not for the rest of the world, not only for the shepherds who heard the announcement by the angel, not just for past generations. He came for you.

May this be the best Christmas you’ve ever had!