Christmas is upon us, and right now, my wife and I find ourselves collecting gifts for those we love. Often the hardest part of gift-giving for us is figuring out the most appropriate gift for family members and friends. The goal—at least for us—is to give something meaningful to the recipient, but a gift that also reflects a bit of who we are. That combination makes the gift special and enjoyable for everyone involved, and sometimes unique enough to be memorable in some way.
In the Scripture, we often read the story of the Magi as a part of our Christmas tradition. While history tells us that the actual experience of Jesus encountering the Magi may have been as much as two years later, the story has been woven into our twenty-first century experience of Christmas. The story, told to us in the Gospel of Matthew 2:1-12, is filled with mystery and wonder. Things happen in this story that defy explanation: stars lead influential people, likely Gentiles, for quite some time to the infant Jesus. Then there is the encounter with Herod to find “the king of the Jews,” and they live to tell about it!
The encounter with the Christ Child in the story is moving. Directed by the star to the place where Jesus is living, we are told they entered the house to find Mary and the infant Jesus (Matthew 2:11). What they did next reveals so much about these famous visitors from the East!
First, they offered Jesus their worship. The Scripture dramatically says, “they fell down and worshiped him” (v. 11). Their worship was emphatic and humble, a picture of full allegiance and submission to the Sovereign before them. Surely their study of Scripture and the reality of the moment at hand convinced them of the sanctity of the experience at hand: they were on holy ground! Moved by the moment, they prostrated themselves before the Maker of the Universe, acknowledging His worth and their own yielded hearts to Him.
Second, they offered Jesus their gifts. The Scripture tells us, “opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh” (v. 12). Commentators and theologians over the years have made much of these gifts representing the roles of Jesus and His work here on earth: gold for a King, incense for a Priest, and myrrh for a Sacrifice—His own costly death. But few have acknowledged what always jumps out at me in the passage: these gifts were their “treasures.” They were precious and personal to the Magi, highly valued by them. No doubt, these gifts were costly to the givers, as well. They were gifts that were special, and unique enough to be memorable in a very significant way.
So, what are you giving to Jesus this Christmas? My hope is it will be precious, personal and valuable to you…a true representation of your heart and the love you have for Jesus. Give Him your worship. Give Him your treasures. If you do, I suspect that like the Magi of old, you’ll never walk the same road again.
David Jackson serves as church planting director and strategist for the Baptist Convention of New England.