The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us. We have seen His glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. John 1:14
Some time ago, my wife Andrea and I were discussing whether to attend a wedding to which we had been invited or to simply send money as a wedding gift. Though we both wanted to go, and felt we should, I found myself asking, I wonder if the couple would rather have the money that we would spend on travel (it was a considerable distance away) as a wedding gift?
I remember international missionaries once sharing with me that a church had spent tens of thousands of dollars to send a large mission team halfway around the world to serve with them for a few days. They were grateful for the help and encouraged by the fellowship. But they also shared candidly, "We couldn't help but think how much more we could have accomplished here with that money if they had stayed home and just sent the money."
When the question presents itself at the time of someone's death, it often has the additional pressure of urgency because there is often little advance notice and little time to make a good decision about going.
Experiences like these underscore the difficult question, “How much is my physical presence worth?” Or, stated more casually and commonly, “Shall I go, or just send something?”
How much is someone's physical presence worth? It's an excellent, spiritual question to ponder. Could Jesus have just "sent" the gift of salvation, without coming personally? Could He have dispatched someone else to the cross, or was it supremely, eternally important that He be there Himself?
The Gospel of John tells us when the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, He chose not just to be present with us, but to become one of us. Through Jesus, God entered into our condition not just with sympathy, but with immeasurable sacrifice.
In God's love and amazing grace, He chose to become human, to embrace mortality for the sake of our immortality. How much was the physical presence of Jesus worth? It was worth everything. It was worth our eternal lives.
By the way, my wife and I are grateful for those who traveled great distances to attend our wedding. I sometimes wonder why they went to such trouble. Now, decades later, we remember very few of their wedding gifts, but we still remember their presence.
There's a worship song that says in part, "I'll never know how much it cost, to see my sins upon that cross." That's certainly true. I wonder if we don't reflect more on the gift of salvation than we do the very presence of "God dwelling among us." The gift of salvation is with us, both now on earth and throughout eternity in heaven. The value of His very presence eclipses even the value of His wonderful gift. Afterall, His name is Immanuel (God with us).