Walmart is busy this time of year. So if you’re praying for patience, it’s the place to go. And Amazon’s working overtime to deliver goodies and gifts before the December 25th deadline. For many stores, Christmastime is perhaps the busiest time of the year. Why? Because everyone is shopping for gifts.
One of the many traditions of Christmas, is the exchanging of presents. One reason why some stores, *cough Walmart, begin Christmas in August. Businesses love selling stuff. It makes them money. And it’s also natural for us to like getting presents. Oh, the sweet, sweet dopamine that is released as we strip away the decorative wrapping to see what is inside. However, I would like to remind us, that though it’s fun to get, Christmas is not about getting; it’s about giving.
One who knows this all too well, is our Father in Heaven, for He gave to us the ultimate gift. For on the first Christmas, which probably was not on December 25th, our Lord gave to the world His Son, His only begotten Son (John 3:16). Emmanuel, which means, “God is with Us,” came in the form of a baby. A cute, innocent, drooling baby. But this baby was like no other, oh no, for he would live a perfect life, and sacrifice his precious body and shed his blood, on a cruel, cruel cross. This was the gift God gave to us, not to mention the gifts of grace, mercy, love, and salvation which we also receive through this babe. And God is not the only gift giver in this story, either:
Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, . . . After listening to the king, they went on their way. And behold, the star that they had seen when it rose went before them until it came to rest over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. And going into the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh. (Mathew 2:1, 9-11).
In Matthew’s account of Jesus’ birth, he records the visit of the magi from the east. We don’t know how many of them there were, but we do know that these Gentiles, offered three precious and expensive gifts to this Jewish family: gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Why these gifts? We don’t know for sure, but they were more than generous. (And they may have also been used to fund Mary’s and Joseph’s escape to Egypt, when warned that King Herod had schemed to snuff out the life of their child.) Additionally, not only were these impressive gifts which held physical value, but they may have held symbolic importance as well:
Born a King on Bethlehem’s plain
Gold I bring to crown Him again
King for ever, ceasing never
Over us all to reign
The first of these gifts, was gold. A precious metal that is still sought after and holds importance today. A metal that is so precious in fact, it’s used as the physical weight of printed currency. A gift fit for a king, and perhaps a symbol of our Messiah’s kingship (Matthew 21).
Frankincense to offer have I
Incense owns a Deity nigh
Prayer and praising, all men raising
Worship Him, God most high
Frankincense is a valuable incense, and one which was used as a burning sweet aroma to Yahweh, both within His Tabernacle and within in His Temple (Exodus 30). This incense’s connection with worship, is perhaps why it may be a symbol of our Messiah’s priesthood (Hebrews 4).
Myrrh is mine
Its bitter perfume breathes
A life of gathering gloom
Sorrowing, sighing, bleeding, dying
Sealed in the stone cold tomb
The magi’s last gift to the Savior, was myrrh. Like Frankincense, myrrh can be burned as an incense. However, it can also be turned into an oil, and used to embalm bodies of those whom are deceased. Perhaps a symbol, of the Messiah’s grizzly death (Luke 22-24).
Now, the Wise Men most likely did not have Jesus’ kingship, priesthood, and death in mind when they gave to Mary and Joseph these gifts. However, in hindsight, it’s amazing how these generous gifts, do represent three very important roles of our Lord and Savior.
God gave to many the most precious of gifts, and the Wise Men gave to Jesus and his family three amazing gifts; therefore, my challenge for us, is to also give thoughtful and precious gifts to those whom we love.
Now, I’m not saying you have to be rich and give to everyone gold this Christmas (but I can give you my address if you’re thinking about it). What I am saying, is pick out something special. Not something quick and expensive, something you think your loved one will like. And you don’t have to buy something either: love, time, and homemade crafts in many ways, can be more precious than the latest game console.
As the month gets busier, don’t get lost in the commercialism of the season. Don’t forget about the baby in the manger who was born for you. And don’t forget, that it’s more important to give, than it is to get.