Summary: Reflections on the gifts the Wise Men brought to to Jesus after His birth.
“WISE GIFTS FOR A GREAT KING”
Preached at Fayetteville Presbyterian Church – January 5th 1997
A favorite seasonal hymn for many folk is "We three Kings". Did you ever stop to think about how the gifts the Wise men bought to Jesus were related to the life He would lead? That’s what I would like us to think about on this Epiphany Sunday and I’m keeping at the back of my mind two bible verses;
"Christ loved us and gave himself for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God"
"They offered to him gifts; gold, frankincense and myrrh"
THE GIFT OF GOLD
"Born a King on Bethlehem plain
Gold I bring to crown Him again
King for ever, ceasing never
Over us all to reign."
Gold, in the time of Jesus - as it is today - as it was in many ancient cultures - was the most precious metal. A golden denarius was the most precious Roman coin. The goldsmith in Israelite society was an important person. Only pure gold was used to make the ornaments used in the two centers of worship for Old Testament religion, the tabernacle and the temple.
Upon each of my hands, I proudly wear a couple of gold rings. The rings are precious. They are made of gold. But their true value lies in what they signify. I say that because I’ve also got three gold teeth in my mouth and whilst I’m sure the gold in my mouth is as materially valuable as that on my fingers, one signifies the lack of care I’ve shown to dental hygiene, whilst the rings on my fingers signify the gift and commitment of love that my wife Yvonne made to me, firstly when we were engaged, secondly when we were married. It’s the significance of the gold and the rings that makes them precious. Gold represents a commitment of life. Gold represents love.
In the Old Testament Tabernacle the most precious ornament was the lampstand or candlestick. According to the instructions Moses had from his God, he instructed the workmen that the candlestick was to be made only from the purest gold. For this was to be the light that illuminated the Holy Place.
In the tabernacle of Moses there was first of all a large outer court, then at the far end was the inner court, the Holy place. Beyond that was the "Holy of Holies", where only once a year an anointed priest was to sacrifice offerings to God. The light was for that Holy place. Bearing the light was a pure gold lampstand. Upon the lampstand were carved symbols of the love and care of God towards His people. Pomegranates symbolizing His peace, Calyx’s (the outer envelope of a flower) to symbolize God’s protection, flowers to symbolize the beauty of holiness, all carved out of pure gold.
By these constructions of pure gold the people were not only reminded that God gave of His best to them, but also that they were to give of their best to Him. So we read of visitors from the East bringing to Jesus, not only themselves, but also their gold; bringing Him the best of their lives.
Isn’t there a message here for our own lives? Is not our calling to give our best to our King? Back in Wales, there was a phrase that I overheard on more than one occasion. It always saddened me when I heard people say, "It will do, It’s only for the church". Some people thought that because something had to do with "church", then it shouldn’t be costly. Second best would do.
Sadly, for many people, their investment in earthly joys far outweighs their concern for the gospel. It is just as well that God’s concern for us is not so cheap - Christ loved us and gave Himself for us.
Notice too that the Wise Men didn’t send their gifts, they brought them in person. They were not content to acknowledge a King from afar, they themselves made the journey and followed the star to wherever it would lead.
Paul tells us that; “Christ loved us and gave Himself for us". In revealing His love to us, God has not been content to send gifts from afar. He, in Christ, brings His presence to the midst of life. He comes where we are, journeys to our homes, our families, our lives. The whole Christmas story is about the God who is with us - God Incarnate.
So we see, at His birth, a wise man offering Him gold, gold a symbol of love, coming himself to give His best to His King... "Gold I bring to crown Him again ....., Over us all to reign".