This post is part of a series of Christmas Devotionals by Dr. John Neihof, president of Wesley Biblical Seminary. You can find all of the devotionals by clicking here.
Scripture passage: Matthew 2:9-12
I want to give Jesus a suitable gift this Christmas. The practice of giving gifts to the Christ child began at the manger with the gift of worship. Shepherds bowed in humble adoration before the infant King. Perhaps they gave modest gifts of their pastoral lives—sheep, blankets, clothing, milk, or cheese—to His mother, His father, and to Jesus Himself.
Then came the Magi from the East. They came bearing elegant gifts for the Christ child: gold, frankincense, and myrrh. These Magi were seekers. They were seeking truth. They were seeking Messiah. They were seeking Messiah’s revelation. Apparently, the Magi were a tribal group of Medes within the kingdom of Persia. They served as advisors, priests, and counselors to the king, studying science, medicine, natural science, astrology, and religion.
Seeing His star rising, the Magi sought the infant king who was born. Expectation propelled them forward. The trek from Babylon to Bethlehem ranged anywhere from 500 to 900 miles. All the while, the Magi followed the star they had seen rising–perhaps Halley’s comet (11 B.C.), a conjunction of Saturn and Jupiter (7 B.C.), or some other astronomical display.
Finding Jesus in a house in Bethlehem, they presented their three-fold gift. Gold is the premier metal fit for a king. Jesus Christ is King of kings and Lord of lords! Frankincense is a gift for a priest to use in temple incense and worship. Jesus Christ the priest who bridges the vast gap between God and man. As incense ascends above, His intercession ascends to the Father for all of humanity. Jesus make it possible for me to come to the Father. Myrrh is a gift to anoint a dead body for burial. The gift of myrrh reminds me that Jesus was born to die. A cross shadowed His life from birth. Jesus came to give His life as an atoning sacrifice, the Lamb of God, for the sins of the whole world.
The common gifts of the shepherds call me to give the ordinary, day to day, part of my life to Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God. The Magi’s gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh call me to surrender, worship, and sacrifice.
Prayer: “Lord Jesus, make my heart Your royal throne from which You rule my life with love. I surrender to Your Kingship–Your Lordship. I worship You with praise and thanksgiving. Make my life a pleasing and perpetual aroma of sacrifice to You. From Your cradle, You call me to a cross. You call me to lose myself in You, take up my cross, and follow You. The looming specter of the cross overshadowed Your life, and overshadows mine. I choose to identify with You in dying to my sin and myself, so that I may be enveloped in Your love and purpose for my life. Thank You for the privilege of giving You a gift this Christmas season. Thank You for accepting my simple gift of myself as inspired by gold, frankincense and myrrh. Amen.”