“When they heard the king, they departed; and behold, the star which they had seen in the East went before them, till it came and stood over where the young Child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceedingly great joy. 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. Then, being divinely warned in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed for their own country another way.”
-Mathew 2:9-12 (NKJV)
While this Scripture only tells us a portion of the story, we know these three Magi traveled a great distance to see the Messiah in person and offer these expensive treasures in tribute. As a precious metal, for this time period in history, gold makes for beautiful jewelry, adornments, and other decorative signs of wealth. Cultivated as perfume made from trees in Arabia and India, frankincense was also extremely valuable. For different purposes, compared to frankincense, myrrh originates from plants in Arabia and even some parts of Ethiopia, which then becomes utilized for anointment and embalming purposes (Hampshire, 2020).
Even though carrying precious cargo, these Magi concentrated on the journey to their final destination before returning to their homelands. (1.) The first lesson exhibited by the wise men includes the following: They Stayed Focused on The Priority. Nothing altered their fixation on the star that rested over Jesus in a manger. (2.) Secondly, this fixation, without distractions or delays, leads to our next revelation: God Guides the Chosen to Their Destination. The Holy Spirit is the blazing light that guides us personally through life, much like a comet gleaming on a clear night. We focus on the Spirit, listen, and watch for signs of direction at the guideposts or forks in the road as part of the journey.
(3.) Thirdly, God Protects the Chosen on Their Journey. King Herod sought to kill this baby, whom God gave to Joseph and Mary through divine providence and intervention. Herod even asked the three Magi to return to him so that he may personally visit the Messiah’s location and worship him. However, angels exposed Herod’s lies through a dream the wise men experienced before meeting Herod in Bethlehem. The wise men returned home upon a different path, rather than the one they originally came from to eventually meet Jesus in the stables. Through a vision of miraculous wonder, God protected these Magi after they presented these exquisite offerings to Jesus, Joseph, and Mary. Bestowed with this new direction, they returned home with miraculous stories to then share with their own people. As chosen travelers, God guided and protected these wise men in their long-awaited pilgrimage to meet Jesus.
(4.) Perhaps the fourth lesson matters most, speaking to our hearts, depending on your current venture: With Sincere Hearts, You Receive More Than You Give. Renowned Pastor John Piper (n.d.) vividly describes this life lesson with these words:
The gifts are intensifiers of desire for Christ himself in much the same way that fasting is. When you give a gift to Christ like this, it’s a way of saying, “The joy that I pursue… is not the hope of getting rich with things from you. I have not come to you for your things, but for yourself. And this desire I now intensify and demonstrate by giving up things, in the hope of enjoying you more, not things. By giving to you what you do not need, and what I might enjoy, I am saying more earnestly and more authentically, ‘You are my treasure, not these things’” (par. 4).
The giving process becomes the aim to serve God and other people with sincere hearts and intentions. It is not necessarily the materialistic items we gain in the Christmas season from the generosity of loved ones. While we should not overlook these gracious blessings and gifts, our delight remains in the Lord and knowing that we offer our best to Him.
Simultaneously, as believers of Jesus Christ and sinners of humanity, we will inevitably falter in this giving process, thinking of ourselves instead of Him. However, the birth of a Son welcomes redemption to celebrate and receive more through sanctity and eternal salvation. The bloodshed on the cross first began with the birth of Jesus on Christmas Day. Therefore, we receive far more than we, as humans, could ever give with the gracious gift of God's Son shown to us. Somehow, in wisdom, these three Magi knew and realized this truth as they pursued the shining light of a guiding star. They stayed focused on Jesus. God guided the wise men. God protected them. And finally, God gave us more than we could ever possibly comprehend or even ask for, the sacrifice of His very own Son.
Merry Christmas, everyone! And as always, thank you for reading this special blog entry this holiday season.
Hampshire, R. (2020, Dec. 1). What is the Significance of the Three Wise Men and Their Gifts? Christianity.com. https://www.christianity.com/wiki/holidays/significance-of-the-three-wise-men-and-their-gifts.html
Piper, J. (n.d.). John Piper Devotional: Gold, Frankincense, and Myrrh. Bible Gateway. https://www.biblegateway.com/devotionals/john-piper-devotional/1778/12/11?language=en
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