When I was a child, a distant aunt insisted on knitting me a new hat every Christmas. I tried to be grateful, but they were truly atrocious creations. The worst one was purple and yellow with great wool loops all over it. (I was convinced that if a bird flew low enough over my head, I was going wherever it was going.) Making these gifts harder to accept graciously was the fact that this aunt bought my brother whatever the latest toy was. When I asked my mother about this glaring discrepancy, she said, “Her gifts say a lot, Sheila. She spends a long time knitting those hats.” Mum was right about gifts saying a lot, and I’ll leave it at that.
The gifts that the Magi brought to Jesus spoke volumes too.
Myrrh was used as an embalming spice in those days; it pointed to the death Jesus would die on our behalf, the payment for our sins.
The gold was so valuable that many commentators believe Joseph used it to cover the costs of traveling to Egypt, following the angel’s command and keeping Jesus safe after Herod ordered the slaughter of all baby boys.
But I find the frankincense most amazing. It’s mentioned in the book of Exodus when God reveals His design for the tabernacle — the place where He would be present with His people. Exodus 30:22–38 has specific instructions about an incense that was to be offered to the Lord: “Never use this formula to make this incense for yourselves. It is reserved for the Lord, and you must treat it as holy. Anyone who makes incense like this for personal use will be cut off from the community” (Exodus 30:37–38).
This incense was to be burned in front of the Ark of the Covenant at the place where God would meet the high priest. Clearly, this incense signified the presence of God with His people. And what exactly was in this special incense? God instructed them to gather fragrant spices and “mix these fragrant spices with pure frankincense” (Exodus 30:34).
As the Magi placed their gifts before the Christ Child, the message was loud and clear: God has come to us!
Five Minutes in the Word
When [the wise men] 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. — Matthew 2:10–11
For to us a Child is born, to us a Son is given; and the government shall be upon His shoulder, and His name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. — Isaiah 9:6
The angel said to [the shepherds], “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” — Luke 2:10–11
The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned. — Isaiah 9:2
Look! The virgin will conceive a Child! She will give birth to a Son, and they will call Him Immanuel, which means “God is with us.” — Matthew 1:23
Excerpted with permission from 5 Minutes with Jesus by Sheila Walsh, copyright Thomas Nelson.
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God has come to us! The Bible affirms it over and over again. God put Himself in human flesh and the gifts of the Magi confirm again that He is who He said He is — Our Creator who is worthy of our worship. Come share your thoughts with us on our blog. We would love to hear from you! ~ Devotionals Daily