Summary: Even as the wise men kept Christ at the center of their lives, we can keep Christ at the center of Christmas, and our lives.
Last week we began a series entitled “Keeping Christ In Christmas.” This series is based on the controversy swirling around our society concerning the word Christmas. There are some who would just as soon remove the word Christ from Christmas. They prefer to say merry Xmas. There are others who get fighting mad over such talk. Regardless of where you stand on this issue, it is real. Our text for this series is Mt. 2:1-15. In this text there are three primary characters: Herod, Mary and Joseph, and the wise men. Last week we took a look at Herod. He wanted to remove Jesus from Christmas. I realize there was no such thing as Christmas, in those days. However, for Christians, the birth of Jesus Christ spelled the beginning of Christmas. For me Jesus is Christmas. Herod wanted to remove Jesus. Mary, Joseph, and the wise men had a radically different perspective. They wanted to love and serve Him. They wanted to honor him. So, today and next Sunday we will see what we can learn from Mary, Joseph, and the wise men about Keeping Christ In Christmas.
Today we think about the wise men. The wise men are remembered for bringing three gifts and laying them before Jesus. The gifts were gold, frankincense, and myrhh. One little boy was telling his parents about his Sunday School lesson.....and shared with them the gifts that the wise men brought to baby Jesus.....he said......they brought him goats, frankenstein, and smurfs. Because there were three gifts we assume there were three wise men.
Gift giving is a big part of our Christmas celebration. I pray that we would not get caught up giving gifts to people and leave Jesus out. Gift giving is exciting, thrilling, and anticipated. Gifts are expressive. They express love, appreciation, thanks, thoughts, ideas, and the Christmas spirit. A gift is able to narrate its own unique story. It tells something about the recipient. A gift tells something about the gift itself. Finally, a gift tells something about the giver. Our text involves three gifts. Lets follow the story line.
I. A gift tells something about the recipient.
Joke: I read about three sons who left home, went out on their own and prospered. They decided they each wanted to buy their elderly mother a gift to express their appreciation. The first built a big house for the mother. The second sent her a Mercedes with a driver. The third said, "You remember how mom enjoyed reading the Bible? And you know she can’t see very well. So I sent her a remarkable parrot that recites the entire Bible. It took 12 years to teach him. He’s one of a kind. Mama can call out a chapter and verse, and the parrot recites it. Soon thereafter, mom sent out her letters of thanks: "Milton," she wrote one son, "The house you built is so huge. I live in only one room, but I have to clean the whole house." "Gerald," she wrote to another, "I am too old to travel. I stay most of the time at home, so I rarely use the Mercedes. And the driver is so rude!" "Dearest Donald," she wrote to her third son, "You have the good sense to know what your mother likes. The chicken was delicious." (Contributed to Sermon Central by Norman Lawrence)
Somehow, in the providence of God, the Magi’s gifts were a prophetic foreshadowing of Jesus later life. There were three gifts.
A. One gift was gold. Throughout history gold has been considered the most precious of metals and the universal symbol of material value and wealth. Gold has obvious worth. Ask any woman if she appreciates gold jewelry. In Biblical days it was seen as a gift fit for royalty. Gold was a gift normally given to a king. Rev. 1:5 says Jesus is the “Prince of kings.” Jesus deserves the very best we can give Him. When Adam and Eve sinned it was an act of rebellion and disloyalty. They did not give God their best. True worship will include an acknowledgement of God’s sovereignty over our lives. It has been said that Jesus Christ is called Lord 747 times in the New Testament. His Lordship deserves our loyal obedience and submission.
B. Another gift was frankincense. Frankincense was a gift used to make intercession with God. The writer of Hebrews tells us Jesus was a priest sent to make intercession with God on our behalf. Frankincense was a costly, beautiful-smelling incense that was used only for special occasions. It was used in the grain offerings at the Tabernacle and Temple, in certain royal processions and sometimes at weddings if it could be afforded.
Frankincense is mentioned 17 times in the Bible. It was used as one of four sweet scents blended together to make the ceremonial incense of the Jews. It was used in both sacrifices and prayer. Its aroma was always present in the Temple grounds. As such, frankincense is a picture of praise and worship of Christ as the Holy One of God come down in flesh among us. Praise is always appropriate on the lips of God’s people.