The giving of gifts has become one of the most significant part of our Christmas celebrations. Most Christians would say we give gifts to remember the gifts given to Jesus from the Magi. I do wonder if our giving really does imitate those men who traveled far to worship a child king. Is there wisdom to be found in the giving of gold, frankincense and myrrh?
It may not be easily discerned, but the gifts the Wise Men brought to Jesus were carefully chosen. In my research I discovered that their gifts were meant to honor the role Christ would play, not only as a future King, but also as Savior.
Some interesting points I learned about the gifts are:
Myrrh comes from a root word meaning bitter. It is a cleansing and purifying agent. It was used in embalming and as incense. The picture I saw of the plant resembled the thorns depicted often in the crown Jesus wore at His crucifixion.
Frankincense causes slow breathing making it an aid to meditation. Pliny has said that frankincense was an antidote to hemlock, a powerful poison. In Exodus 30:34 it is called levonah which in Hebrew can be Lebanese or white.
Gold is well known to most of us, but we might not know some of its properties that describe our Lord. Gold never tarnishes or rusts. No other metal is as ductile or malleable as gold. It has the ability to be used in a wide range of everyday applications. It is used in electronic processes to remove the heat from easily harmed instruments. Gold seems to be everywhere but it is difficult to mine in most substances and so it is valuable.
I hope you can easily see that in these gifts, the Magi offered their belief in who Jesus was. He was the One destined to die for the sins of the world. He was the pure sacrifice that would cure our sin disease and overcome death. And finally Jesus was eternal, the all-knowing, all-powerful God.
There is wisdom for us in these gifts. First that we must also give our belief and trust in Jesus. The Magi lead us to the truth of Jesus. The gifts Jesus truly wants from us is to believe in Him. Secondly, as we give to others we should make our gifts memorable by giving presents which makes the receiver say, "You believe in me! You know me!"
My good friend, Carol Leff, once shared with me her list of why we should give gifts. These reflect the giving of the Magi. I hope they live in my heart as well.
to build someone up
to recognize their place in your life
to honor them
to fill them with joy and pleasure
to cause them to do unto others.
Giving and Generous God. You have given the most meaningful of gifts by sending Your Son. The Wise Men saw and believed. I, too, believe! Help me when I struggle to believe! Thank You for the opportunity to give as You have given. Teach me to love like You do!