And when they had come into the house, they saw the young Child with Mary His mother, and fell down and worshiped Him. And when they had opened their treasures, they presented gifts to Him: gold, frankincense, and myrrh. 12Then, being divinely warned in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed for their own country another way.
Have you ever received a gift at Christmas that you didn’t understand, or that didn’t mean very much to you at the time? Maybe you received a Bible before you knew how to read, or a watch that belonged to your grandfather before you knew how to tell time.
Matthew tells us that the wise men gave “gifts” to Jesus when he was very young. But if we think of their gifts as Christmas, birthday, or “just because” gifts, they seem kind of strange. Gold was very costly and valuable, and so were the spices of frankincense and myrrh. But they wouldn’t have meant much as gifts to a little dark-eyed, pudgy-faced, Jewish toddler.
So, if the gifts of the wise men weren’t just normal presents, what were they?
Hundreds of years before Jesus was born, King David prophesied a day when God the Father would give the Gentile nations, allthe Gentile nations, to his Son as his inheritance (Psalm 2:7-8). The gifts that the wise men brought Jesus were not like the presents that we give one another. They were royal gifts with special meaning. The gold, frankincense and myrrh were products of the country that the wise men came from, and represented their country’s homage (honor and willing submission) to Jesus, the real “King of the Jews” and the “Son” spoken of in Psalm 2.
We Christians are so used to thinking of ourselves as “God’s special people” that we sometimes forget that it wasn’t always so. At the time Jesus was born, most of the world in the Americas, Europe, Africa, Asia and Australia (including your ancestors, unless you’re Jewish!) did not know or worship Yahweh God. And so we should remember to read with great joy and thankfulness the story of these wise men, these “firstfruits” from among the Gentile nations. For they were not only the first trickle of the flood of nations that would pour into God’s Kingdom after Pentecost. But as such, they are our spiritual ancestors. Thanks be to God for His mercy to the Gentiles!
—Pastor Gene Helsel, Trinity Church, Wenatchee, Washington
Gracious Heavenly Father, just like You promised, You have given all the nations to Your Son Jesus as his rightful inheritance. You have placed all things under his feet, given him rule and dominion over everything in heaven and on earth, and caused wise men in every age to seek him. Help us to worship You, in Jesus our lord, by the power of Your Holy Spirit. And use our humble worship and joyful obedience to bring our whole nation into the glad service of King Jesus. AMEN.
Where were your ancestors at the time Jesus was born? What were they doing then? When did the Gospel of Jesus Christ come to your ancestors? Is your country living today in joyful obedience to King Jesus? The wise men offered their gifts,themselves and their country to Christ. When you worship God on Sunday morning, do you remember to represent and pray for your country as you do?