The Gifts of the Wise Men and Our Gifts to Jesus
It's that time of year again...time for gift-buying, gift-wrapping, and gift-exchanging. What are the gifts we could bring Jesus this Christmas? One way we can discover that is to look at Matthew 2:1-12, which tells of the gifts the wise men brought Him on the night when God became flesh and dwelt among us.
Gold -- His Sovereign Dominion
Gold is a gift that would be presented to a king because it was the most precious metal of that day and it symbolized royalty. The wise men recognized that this baby born in a manger was no ordinary baby -- this was King Jesus! The wise men did not cuddle Him. They did not play games with Him. Instead they bowed the knee in reverence to Him.
I was in Washington once and had the opportunity to speak with the President. I told him that I had learned that he was coming to Memphis, Tennessee the next day. He said, "That's right. Why don't you ride to Memphis with me on Air Force One." "Why," I said, "Mr. President, that would be an honor but I have a plane that's going back this afternoon." "Well," he said, "If you can arrange it, I'd love to have you."
Do you know what I did? I rearranged my schedule, booked a room at the hotel, and bought a toothbrush. Later I thought, "Adrian, you went to a lot of trouble just so you could spend a few moments with that man...(And I'd do it again, but that's not the point). And how would you compare that to what you do for the King of kings?" And my heart smote me -- that sometimes I am more impressed with the men of this world than I am with heaven's King. My friend, He is King of kings.
Frankincense -- His Sinless Deity
If gold was a gift of wealth for a king, then frankincense was used to worship the King. These wise men recognized the sinless deity of Jesus that was deserving of their worship. Matthew 2:11 says, "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."
You see, Jesus was not only born a king, He was God in human flesh. Now, whether the wise men fully understood all of this or not, I don't know. But I do know that the Holy Spirit impelled them to make these gifts and the Holy Spirit recorded these gifts.
There will be many who read this and say, "Well I don't believe that Jesus Christ is God but I do believe that He was a good man." But what did Jesus say? "And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou Me good? there is none good but one, that is, God" (Mark 10:18). If Jesus Christ is not God, then He is not good by His own words.
Myrrh -- His Sacrificial Death
The third gift the wise men brought was a valuable gum-like substance called myrrh that was used to embalm the dead. Can you imagine bringing a little baby something that would be used to embalm the dead? They did this because they recognized that this little baby was born to die.
Myrrh was also used as a narcotic to dull pain. Mark 15:22-23 tells us, "And they bring Him unto the place Golgotha, which is, being interpreted, The place of a skull. And they gave Him to drink wine mingled with myrrh: but He received it not." There upon that cross, instead of tasting myrrh to numb His pain, Jesus tasted death for every man. To prepare Him for burial, Nicodemus brought myrrh (see John 19:38-40).
As I have said before, I don't know whether the wise men understood all of this, but I know the Holy Spirit did. And this is not by accident. Of everything that could be listed as gifts to the King, we read they brought gold, frankincense and myrrh to recognize His sovereign dominion, sacred deity, and sacrificial death.
What will you give Jesus this Christmas? Your wealth? All that we have belongs to Him. Your worship? Fall on your face before Him. Your witness? I want the world to know that He died for me. Do you? My wealth, my worship, and my witness belongs to my Lord. And so does yours.