Summary: No tree to place them under. No shiny bows or wrapping paper. But the original “Christmas Gifts” are worthy to be examined during this season.
Pt. 1 - Gold
?Here it comes. Ready or not. Tree assembled or not. Christmas. With all of the hustle and bustle. The paper and bows. The lights and wreaths. Christmas. Christmas captures our attention, our heart and even our imagination. That is true even for those of us who know the true meaning of Christmas. We imagine what it was like. So out of our imagination we create nativity scenes. The scene is complete with sheep, shepherds, mangers and the like. You know the scene. The shepherds on one side peering into the improvised crib. The 3 wise men on the other side gazing into the face of Jesus. However, I hate to break up your beautiful crystal, plaster or marble nativity set but that scene probably isn't a very accurate portrayal of the birth of Jesus. In fact, the shepherds and wise men were probably not even there at the same time. The wise men would almost seem to be late. However, they do arrive at a different time most likely because they journeyed a great distance to come and pay homage to Jesus.
Maybe the first lesson even before we get into the account is that (SLIDE 2) the distance you are from Jesus isn't as important as beginning the journey to Jesus! So, before we ever get started today let me encourage you - if you feel like you are the furthest away you can still start taking steps towards Him and the good news if you start taking steps you will find Him.
OK, now back to destroying your perfect nativity set.
TEXT: Matthew 2:9-11
Instructed by the king, they set off. Then the star appeared again, the same star they had seen in the eastern skies. It led them on until it hovered over the place of the child. They could hardly contain themselves: They were in the right place! They had arrived at the right time! They entered the house and saw the child in the arms of Mary, his mother. Overcome, they kneeled and worshiped him. Then they opened their luggage (I would love to stop and talk about the fact that you can empty your baggage when you see Jesus) and presented gifts: gold, frankincense, myrrh.
Did you hear it? Did you spot the nativity destroyer? They entered the house! Luke describes the scene with the shepherds and says they see Jesus in the manger. The wise men arrived at a different time. However, it isn't there punctuality that I want to focus on during this season. Rather, I want to spend some time each week examining their presents.
So, these wise men bring gifts. Let's look at the gifts closely.
The first wise man pulls back the zipper on his bag and presents gold to this baby that he has come to worship.
This gift of gold has been scrutinized throughout the ages. It has been claimed that it was this gift that financed the escape of Mary, Joseph and Jesus to Egypt. It is highly possible that it was this gift that made that trip possible.
Again a side note - could it be that the gift you present to Jesus might make someone's salvation possible? Could it be the menial task, the mundane and routine action, the Sunday after Sunday role you grow tired of or weary in that seems to be unnoticed and maybe even unappreciated could be the gift that makes it possible for someone to escape destruction and moves them beyond the reach of the enemy?
Perhaps one of the lessons from this gift is that it is very important to present our best to Jesus!
When we approach THE Gift we should bring gifts. If we are not careful, then we compare what we have to bring to these gifts and we falter. However, it isn't the cost of the gift it is the value of the gift that matters and how you present them ... in worship.
We must present what is most valued and most precious. During this season of gift giving and receiving we need to stop and make sure that as the year draws to a close that we too have offered Jesus our best. Have we given Him what we treasure most? Is that finances - have we held back? Is that worship - have we gone through the motions? Is that time - have we been selfish? Is it service - have we skipped out to do what we prefer to do? May I challenge you to stop for just a moment and make sure you have given and continue to give Jesus what you value most. Stop and make sure your treasure has been presented to Jesus. Why is that so important? Jesus would tell us later in Matthew 6:21 - Where your heart is your treasure will be also. In other words, it is crucial to intentionally and willfully lay your treasure at Jesus' feet because what you treasure you will worship! If we refuse to offer our treasure to Jesus the day will come when our treasure will take the place of Jesus in our hearts!