Summary: In this story, the Magi come with gifts. I wonder why they came giving gifts? Have you thought about why we give gifts to each other? Receiving the Gift, Opening the Gift, Sharing the Gift
The Ultimate Gift
You know I have often wondered what a visitor, say from outer space, would say about Christmas. Perhaps if they saw all of our decorations; like Christmas trees decorated with lights and ornaments, and Christmas cards, and Christmas dinner with family and gifts under the tree and Christmas Parades, and the singing of Christmas carols -- they might think it is a really important event. And perhaps it is safe to say it is an important event ... but perhaps it is important for all the wrong reasons. I wonder if it is important because what God did on the first Christmas or because of all the fun activities we do around Christmas.
When it comes to Christmas, have you thought about why we do the things we do? For example, what is up with the Christmas trees, the lights and other ornaments? And why do we put presents under the tree? You know though, Christmas isn’t Christmas isn’t Christmas until you exchange gifts.
In the story of the very first Christmas magi (magicians or astrologers) came to visit Jesus and his family.
Let’s read their story.
The magi (Matt 2:1-11)
In this story, the Magi come with gifts. I wonder why they came giving gifts? Have you thought about why we give gifts to each other?
To send presents is a natural expression of our own happiness, and our desire for the happiness of others-like we do now by giving "Christmas" and "birthday" gifts. We give gifts to mark the celebration of a person or event. We give birthday presents because it is a happy time, and we throw a party. Right? We do the same at Christmas time. But the gifts aren’t for Jesus. The gifts given by the magi weren’t given to make Jesus happy. The truth is that Jesus was a gift to them and he is our gift. He is a gift to the world. The Magi came to celebrate his birth, because they recognized he was special and we should recognize he is special. The world needs to recognize he is special. In v. 2 it says that the magi had "come to worship [him] ..." They had come to worship Jesus as the recognized the importance of his birth.
We can learn something from the giving of gifts. When we receive a gift we can do three things. Receive the Gift, Open the Gift and if we choose, Share the Gift.
1. Receiving the Gift
Christmas is an exciting time, especially when you are young. In my home, Christmas presents were placed under the tree weeks before Christmas. I would often try and sneak a peek and guess what mum and dad put under the tree for me. I would shack the gifts to see what sound they make. Smell it to see what scent it had. And when I thought I could get away with it, I would peel back the wrapping and see what it looked like underneath the wrapping. There is excitement in the anticipation of what could be hiding under the wrapping. All that changes the moment you receive the gift. See, you don’t know for sure what the gift is until you receive it. You haven’t opened it, but your heart pounds. Is that the playstation console or game that I wanted it? Or is it more socks and underwear from grandma? When we receive the gift it is a chance to see what it is.
The magi visited Jesus because they had read old texts that foretold of Jesus’ birth. They didn’t know exactly what all the fuss was about, but they went to check it out. Just like when we receive a gift, we don’t always know what it will mean for us, and how it might change our life. But when expect to receive a good gift we sure to want to find out.
The magi themselves were not believers, like the family of Jesus. But they had read about a king that was to be born, and so they wanted to pay their respects and find out about this king. Perhaps they did not understand the significance of this birth, and only time would reveal the gift that Jesus would be. The old teachings told them that this king would bring a heavenly kingdom (the kingdom of God) to the earth. And of course, we are told that they men followed a star that revealed the location of Jesus and his family.
As we know in receiving the gifts, the anticipation of what the gift is builds until we must know what the gift actually is. To do this we must open the gift. Only in opening the gift do we really know whether all that waiting was worthwhile. We open the gift and we find out what it is all about.