Saturday, December 20, 2008

the gifts of the Magi

Three Wise Men.
(These just happen to be the ones from my nativity set.) Actually, the Bible doesn't call them Wise Men; they are called only "Magi from the east." Nor does it tell us there were only three of them. All we really know is that there were three particular gifts given to Jesus by the Magi (not that there were only three givers). It is also believed that the Magi did not actually visit Jesus at His birth, in the stable, but that they came later. Most commonly it is thought they arrived about two years after His birth. (I think we get much of our Christmas-related theology from Christmas carols--in the case of these ideas, we can attribute them to "We Three Kings.")

The important thing here is not how many Magi there were. Or when they arrived to visit Jesus. The truly important things are how they got there, what their posture was toward Jesus, and what they brought with them.

First, the Magi found Jesus by following a star: "After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, "Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him." (Matt 2:1,2)

They knew the prophecies; they read the skies; they knew the exact time the star had appeared. And they followed it until they found the One to Whom it was leading them. They traveled a long way to find Him, but they did not stop until they found Him: "...they went on their way, and the star they had seen in the east went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed." (Matt 2:9,10)

When they saw the place to where the star pointed, they were OVERJOYED! Not because the place itself was special in any way, but because they knew they had found the King about Whom it was prophesied! Their long journey was complete!

Their posture toward Jesus is another of the important pieces of this story. "On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him." (Matt 2:11a) These were men of wealth and respect. They were probably men to whom others bowed in reverance or to whom, at least, great respect and deference was given. And their automatic response to seeing Jesus was to bow down and worship Him. They knew Who He was-- the King of Kings!

Also of importance is the nature of the gifts which they gave to Jesus: "Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh." (Matt 2:11b) Strange gifts, perhaps, for a child, but very appropriate gifts for this King. Gifts of great value. Treasures, no less. And, oh, so symbolic of Who Jesus truly was --King, God, Sacrifice.

Gold was a gift for a king--representing His royalty.
Incense was a gift used in worship of God--representing His diety.
Myrrh was a gift used in death--representing His sacrifice for us, that He was born to die.

These were the gifts that were laid at the feet of the child. These were the men who traveled so very far to bow down before Him and worship Him.

In the manner of the Magi, we, too, must search for Jesus with all our hearts. We, too, must bow before Him in reverence and worship Him. We, too, shall give to Him the treasures of our lives and our hearts....

...Oh come let us adore Him, Christ the Lord...

No comments:

Post a Comment

I'm so glad you've stopped by! I love hearing from you and can't wait to read your comments! Let me know what's on your mind and your heart today...