Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Jacob's Gift

Max Lucado has a knack for taking a story from the Bible and making it come to life. Jacob’s Gift, illustrated by Robert Hunt, is certainly one of those stories.

The main character in the story, Jacob, exhibits a natural talent for working with wood. The Rabbi has announced to all his students the upcoming arrival of his nephew, a master carpenter from Nazareth. The nephew is coming to help the Rabbi select one of his students to work on a new synagogue. Jacob is intrigued by the idea of being chosen for such an honor and is working on a special project to prove his talents.

Rabbi Simeon knows Jacob is on his way to becoming a master carpenter himself. He tells Jacob, “God has given you the gift of woodworking.” He goes on to say, “God gives gifts, Jacob. Some can sing, others teach, and you – you can build…God gave you this gift to share with others…When you give a gift to one of His [God’s] children, it’s like giving a gift to God.”

Jacob spends his days helping his father get their family owned inn ready for an expected influx of visitors; he spends his evenings cutting, sawing and shaping his special project. Then, on a special night, when the stars are bright overhead, a man and a woman arrive at the inn his father owns. Jacob sees the bright star and follows the light to the inn’s stables, where he sees a stranger, with his wife and their newborn infant. The baby is wrapped in cloths and is lying on the ground in a nest of straw.

Jacob has spent countless hours on his special project; it’s a new type of manger that Jacob designed himself, a manger with wheels. He knows he has done a good job on it and he wants to have it ready to show to the Rabbi the next day, but when he sees the baby lying in the straw, he also knows that’s not a fitting place for an infant. He gives the new manger to the couple for the use of their newborn son. Little does he realize the significance of his gesture, the true measure of his gift.

This is a book about the birth of Christ, about Christmas, but that is really only a small part of the story. The larger message is about giving gifts to others and about God’s gift of his Son to us.

The book is beautifully illustrated with life-like drawings done mostly in muted colors.

What I Like: Everything.

What I Dislike: Nothing.

Overall Rating: Excellent.

Age Appeal: The publisher suggests an age group of 9-12 years, but I believe this is a book that the entire family would enjoy.

Publisher Info: Thomas Nelson, 1998; ISBN: 084995830X; Hardcover: $14.99.

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