By Christianne Debysingh
“They entered the house and saw the child with his mother, Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasure chests and gave him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.” Matthew 2:11 NLT
There is nothing more fun to watch than a child filled with great expectation as they open presents. The squeals of glee always put a smile on my face.
I don’t know about you, but I love receiving presents. As a child, I would watch the presents accumulate under the tree and examine them to know which were mine—feeling and shaking them to see if I could guess what was inside. It was almost too much to bear at times, and I thought I would burst having to wait. I still love receiving presents, even if my expressions of joy are somewhat more tempered.
As I prepare for another Christmas and search for just the right gift for each person on my list, I can’t help but think of another child, so long ago, who received three presents. As the opening verse, Matthew 2:11 says, “… they opened their treasure chests and gave him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.”
I’ve often thought about those three gifts and wondered at their significance. They’re certainly not normal gifts you would give to a child, so what was so special about them? According to ancient tradition, these valuable items were typical gifts given to honor a king.
–Gold – a precious metal, a symbol of kingship on earth
–Frankincense – a perfume or incense, a symbol of deity
–Myrrh – an anointing oil, an embalming oil, a symbol of death
Wow! That’s quite a lot of significance when you consider to whom these gifts were given. Each gift of the magi perfectly reflected who Jesus Christ is and what he came to do.
Discovering this not only changed my perspective on gift giving, but on how I celebrate Christmas. For me, it’s become a time of joy, reflection, and promise.
Joy as I think of God’s perfect gift to us. “For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16 NLT
Reflection as I ponder how to best honor that gift. “And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him.” Romans 12:1 NLT
Promise as I consider his ultimate sacrifice. “But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.” Romans 5:8 NLT
This Christmas, amid all the excitement and busyness, my prayer for each of us is that we willingly open the treasure chests of our hearts and give him that which we most value. He is waiting with great anticipation.
God gave us his most precious gift. Are we willing to do the same?