The gift of a wise man
Steven P. Wickstrom
During the Christmas season we have a tendency to center our attention on gift giving and receiving. We lose sight of why we give gifts and focus instead on the gifts. We think about giving gifts to friends and relatives but neglect one very important person. What gift will we give to Jesus? We trace the tradition of gift giving back to the wise men, so perhaps we should pay attention to what they gave to Jesus.
Just in case you are curious, there is no Biblical record that the wise men visited Jesus while he was in the manger. According to Matthew 2:11 “And they came into the house and saw the child with Mary his mother; and they fell down and worshipped him . . . .” When the wise men visit Jesus, he is a child, and lives in a house. That was probably a year or two after Jesus was born. After the wise men departed, King Herod killed all babies aged two and under in Bethlehem, in a vain attempt to kill Jesus. King Herod based his desicion to kill all children aged two and under from the report the Magi gave him as to when they first saw the star in the heavens. I hope that doesn't destroy the Chistmas night story for you.
We do not really know where the wise men came from or how long they traveled on their journey to see Jesus. We can make some educated guesses, but it doesn't really matter. Tradition (which tends to be more fiction than fact) says that the wise men were named Melchior, Gaspar, and Balthasar. It is thought that Melchior brought gold, Gaspar brought frankincense, and Balthasar brought myrrrh. The Bible says that the wise men followed a star to Israel. Other people probably noticed the star, but chose not to follow it to the Messiah. The Bible does not concern itself with who the wise men were, how many there were, what their names were, or where they came from. The important thing was that they came to worship the King, the baby Jesus.
Let's take a look at the gifts that the wise men brought to give to Jesus. The Bible tells us that the wise men brought three gifts: gold, frankincense, and myrrh. All three of these gifts are costly and valuable. Gold, the first gift; is a gift given to a king. Frankincense, the second gift; a fragrance used in the making of incense, is a gift given to a priest. Myrrh, the third gift; was used as an embalming agent on a dead body; it was gift for someone who was going to die.
What can I give to Jesus that can compare with the gifts of the wise men? The wise men gave gold to Jesus. I don't have any gold, but I can give him something else. I will give myself to the King and I will be His servant. I will serve him with my life and all that I am. In doing this, I give to Jesus, the King of Kings, the gold of my life and my service.
The wise men gave frankincense to Jesus. I don't have any frankincense to give, but I can give him something else. The book of Revelations refers to the prayers of the saints as fragrant incense before God. I will pray to him and make my life a life of prayer. By doing this, I give to Jesus, the High Priest, the gift of incense through my prayers.
The wise men gave myrrh to Jesus. I don't have any myrrh, but I can give him something else. Jesus gave His life for me, so I will give my life to him. I will live for him and be his disciple. Jesus died for me so that I might not die in my sins. By accepting Jesus as my Lord and Savior, I give him the myrrh of my life.
In his death and resurrection, Jesus gave me the gift of eternal life. He died for me so that I could live forever. Perhaps the greatest gift that I can give to God is to accept his gift to me. This is indeed the gift of a wise man. What gift will you give this year?
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