As we head into the Christmas season, our thoughts turn to the birth of Jesus and how that glorious, yet seemingly simple event has impacted us as human beings. He was born in a stable in Bethlehem, cradled in a trough of hay, among sheep, donkeys and other common animals, yet he changed the course of history and provided a way of salvation for all mankind.
The wisemen, or magi, knew that the child, Jesus, was something special. When they arrived at his home after traveling for, what many scholars say, could have been a couple of years, (In Matthew 2:16 Herod proceeds to have all boy children under the age of 2 killed in hopes of killing this new king Jesus) they brought precious and expensive gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh to present to the new child king. Why gold, frankincense and myrrh? What exactly do they represent?
Gold is a precious metal and often represents kingship. Frankincense is an incense that comes from a leafy, forest tree and was burned by the jews to create a sweet scent during their Sabbath ceremony. This was meant to represent our Savior’s role as our priest, who intercedes for us before God the Father. And lastly, myrrh, is a pale yellow liquid found in the bark of certain bushes that turns into a type of resin. It was used as an anointing oil or embalming agent in biblical times. As a matter of fact, in John 19:38-42, we see that Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus used 75 lbs of myrrh and aloes to prepare Jesus’s body for burial. The use of this oil is a foreshadowing of Jesus’s death and represents the role of Jesus as prophet. Therefore, we see in these precious and costly gifts, Jesus, our Savior as prophet, priest, and king.
What about you? Have you thought about what gifts you have to bring King Jesus at this very special time of year? As I thought about this idea of what my own gifts would be to my Savior during this Christmas season, I came up with the following:
I can show my love for him through obedience to his Word, engaging in worship of him, and spending time building my relationship with him as I read his Word, pray, and listen for his direction and wisdom. I can also show my love for him by ministering to others in need. In Matthew 25:40 we see this point illustrated. “The King (Jesus) will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.'” (NIV)
I am devoted to Jesus Christ when I honor him above all else, turning neither to the right nor to the left, speaking out for his causes in the world, even today. We are coming to a point in history where we will be called out and persecuted for being Christ-followers, possibly unto death. This is already happening around the world and recently here in America, as well. Are you prepared to be a devoted Christ-follower? Devotion to Christ also means nothing else will take his place in my life…not wealth, position, trivial pursuits, or even family.
The gift of our time in this speed-driven, instant gratification society in which we live is truly a difficult sacrifice for some. But, working for the kingdom takes time and self-sacrifice. There is much to be done. As the Bible says in Luke 10:2, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few.” Think about giving more of your time to the work of the kingdom.
This gift is somewhat related to the gift of “time”. We all have gifts and talents that we can use for the kingdom of God. Maybe you can sing or play an instrument…or maybe you have the gift of leadership or organization or teaching. Perhaps you are a wonderful cook…or love to pray for those who are struggling or to cuddle babies in the church nursery. There are so many ways that we can serve the Lord in the world and in the church today, we need only to look.
This Christmas season I intend to focus on what I can give to Jesus, my Savior, in honor and gratitude to him, just as the wisemen did over 2000 years ago. I hope you will, as well.