The Magi Visit the Messiah
2 After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem 2 and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”
3 When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him.4 When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Messiah was to be born. 5 “In Bethlehem in Judea,” they replied, “for this is what the prophet has written:
6 “‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for out of you will come a ruler
who will shepherd my people Israel.’”
7 Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. 8 He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.”
9 After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. 11 On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. 12 And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.
Don’t you hate shopping for the person-who-has-everything on your list? Just when you think you’ve found the perfect gift, you discover they already own it. Or you know they have the resources to buy whatever they want and need already.
The Magi or “wise men” faced such a challenge. What do you bring to a future king? Presumably, a king has unlimited resources. The non-Jewish men were educated in astrology and religion. They traveled about 900 miles from the East, following a star in anticipation of finding the Messiah - the promised king of the Jews.
When the Magi arrive in Bethlehem, they knelt at Jesus’ tiny feet and presented their gifts. These wise men brought presents of gold - a valued metal than as it is now, frankincense - used as perfume and incense for the altar, and myrrh - a perfume or tonic used when preparing a corpse for burial. The gold, frankincense, and myrrh were great in expense and showed reverence to Jesus. It was a way of saying “The joy that I pursue is not the hope of getting rich by bartering with you or negotiating some payment. I have not come to you for your things, but for you alone.” It was an act of worship that said to Jesus, “I treasure you more than I treasure these things.”
I wonder if we can think of gift giving in this way, not just for the person-who-has-everything, but also for the God-who-has-everything. God really just wants our hearts, sold out in worship of Him. God wants our soul to give of itself in ways that say, “I love God more than I love my things.” This sold-out heart and soul of grace is an act of true worship and the perfect Christmas gift.
God, you are a big God. I love you and I am willing to serve your purposes. Please guide me to be a servant to your people. Guide me to be an instrument of your grace and peace each day. Thank you for loving me and for hearing and answering my prayers. Amen.
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version ® NIV ®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2014 by Biblica, Inc.®. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.