It is easy to see how giving gifts became a tradition associated with Christmas. But where did the wrapping paper come from? God is not very good at gift-wrapping.

According to Luke 2:12, the greatest gift of all time was wrapped in rags and placed in a wooden box that had been used as a feeding trough for years. I’d never get away with that when I wrap up my Christmas gifts!

As a result, nobody noticed the gift that was lying there. Except the shepherds who were given an angelic flash mob to tell them where to look; and the wise men who had a starry flashlight.

It set the tone for the rest of the life of this baby. Isaiah tells us that when God became man, there was “nothing beautiful about his appearance, nothing to attract us to him” (Is 53:2, NLT). So people continued to “look the other way when he went by” (v.3). Another case of God not doing a very good job of gift wrapping. He gift-wrapped his Son in a very ordinary-looking human body, and we failed to see his value.

Why did God not wrap up his great gift in such a way that everybody would be amazed? Perhaps because he knows our childish propensity to be preoccupied with the external wrapping and miss the real gift inside. The rough and ready wrapping paper could not prevent serious seekers finding the treasure. And the light still shines for those whose step God is directing toward the manger. But the casual observer will never see anything.

If you had a choice between two gifts – a $1 bill wrapped in glitter and a $1million cheque scrunched up in an old newspaper – which would you choose? I’d choose the baby in the manger any time!