Sunday, December 18, 2016

The Gift of the Magi

The magi from the east brought gold, frankincense and myrrh. For the significance of those, see an earlier commentary: Gifts to the Messiah

That's what Jesus got materially, but what was it that he really received?

Matthew 2:1 "Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, 2 Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him. 9 When they had heard the king, they departed; and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was. 10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy. 11 And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense and myrrh. 12 And being warned of God in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed into their own country another way."
  •  (Verse 1) Jesus knocked and the magi answered. The magi came. His "knocking" was his birth. Their coming was their travel from  a distant place, probably Persia, now Iran. Herein are numerous gifts: faith that it was God they followed and the hardships of the trip. They brought Jesus perseverance because they traveled 970 miles probably by camels or asses. It wasn't three men which came, but surely a caravan of single-minded people.
  • (Verse 2) They queried "Where is born the King of the Jews?" Their gift here was his Kingship validated by their gift of gold which signifies kingship. They came to worship him. As such their gift to him was reverence.
  • (Verse 9) They believed! When they star stood over the baby Jesus, they knew Jesus was King! Because they were Persians they were surely Zoroastrians, but were open to truth. Jesus is for everyone who believes in him. Their belief converted them from pagans to Christians.  In essence they sacrificed themselves by believing in Jesus!
  • (Verse 10) They rejoiced. Their trip was rewarded. They came to see the King and bow to him and that's what they did. Joy is from the heart. They gave Jesus their heart. These tired pilgrims became new persons by belief. As such the presence of Jesus saved them. Note that their faith was before they saw Jesus. It was the hope that made them travel the path to Jesus. Their faith was such that they knew not only of his Kingship (gold) and life (frankincense), but also of his death (myrrh). They knew why he was born when he was born. They rejoiced that he came to die for them, not Jews but Gentiles.
  • (Verse 11) They fell down and worshiped him! Their gift was humility. Imagine what people thought, these wise men bowing down to a poor baby who was born in a manger in a stall. Humility is important because being born again when people present themselves a living sacrifice. Their gift to him was themselves! Of course their gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh, but they brought these in advance of knowing him as recognition that he was who God said he would be! That is the gift of faith. It's the gift for which the givers will someday be rewarded. They receive themselves a gift as they brought their gifts: the hope of salvation!
  • (Verse 12) By averting Herod, they protected Jesus, not that he needed their protection, but God used them. In other words they risked their lives for Jesus!
Just look at the gifts they brought! There were three material gifts, but unspoken of was all their spiritual gifts. What was the gifts they really brought: hearts, minds and souls. That was the true gold, frankincense and myrrh! That's how much they loved the Lord. The gift of the magi was love!  That's what we should bring to God! It's our love he wants. He has always desired that from day one. What is it that we most often fail to give? Love.

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