The Gifts of the Wise
We are familiar with the song that is associated with the “Wise Men” of old being led to the prophesied Savior, to be born in Bethlehem: “Star of Wonder, Star of Night.” These Christmas lyrics speak of the “royal beauty bright, westward leading, still proceeding, guiding us to thy perfect light” (John Henry Hopkins Jr.). What a beautiful song based on Scripture, speaking of the wisdom in our seeking HIM, as the wise men sought the Lord at his birth. “There came wise men from the east to Jerusalem … When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy” (Matthew 2:1, 11). These magi not only knew the astronomy of the heavenly bodies, but their knowledge of Old Testament Scripture gave them a keen awareness to a prophetic stellar movement in the eastern sky. A new star appeared as a miracle of light shining majestically with divine significance of the Jewish Messiah’s birth as foretold. “I see him … I behold him … A star out of Jacob. A Scepter shall rise out of Israel” (Numbers 24:17). That star was not any nominal, motionless planetary alignment (Kepler), it was a NEW moving, guiding luminary in the sky placed as prophesied by the Lord, directing the wise to the birth place of Jesus, the Savior. “But thou Bethlehem Ephratah though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall HE come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel, whose goings forth have been from old, from everlasting” (Micah 5:2). The “Star of Night” (Hopkins) was the brilliance associated with the light of God’s Word, of and from which we as wise men still seek HIM.
Wise men still seek HIM in following the light as given by the Lord. As the Magi accepted the STAR that was sent to them as the light moving in the direction of the Savior, showing them the way, we need to be receptive to the guiding light of God’s Word. The light of God’s Word has power to move us closer and closer in the direction of the Savior, illuminating our hearts for a worshipful relationship with HIM. As the glorious light of the star was not stationary, but moving brilliantly toward the Savior, the wise men were not idle, neither should we be as well. They were on the move to take in the light, because that luminary became a glorious, spiritual heart matter to them. The Bethlehem star was the light sent by the Father to lead them to the SON, and “when they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding joy” (v. 10). That royal beauty bright, leading, still proceeding, guided them to the PERFECT LIGHT, the Lord Jesus Christ (Hopkins). “When they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down and worshipped him” (v. 11). Joy filled their heart and then worship flowed from the heart of the wise men seeking the PERFECT LIGHT. You see, light DOES THAT! So, why the joy? Why the worship? The answer is as clear as the glorious sky lighted by the Bethlehem Star. The “Light of the World” is Jesus, and “in him was life, and the life was the light of men” (John 1:4). As we in God’s wisdom accept the “Light of the World” (Jesus) by bringing in the light of God’s Word, we too will be joyful in worship. You see, “The light shineth in darkness, and the darkness comprehended it not” (John 1:5, cannot put it out). The darkness found in the sinful nature of man, together with the misery of a self-driven life is addressed by the LIGHT, shining in: “In HIM is life, and the life was the light of men” v. 4). When the light is received in the heart of man, the darkness flees, IT HAS TO, and a glorious life with the Lord begins. Then, there will be no worship more life satisfying, more fulfilling than what God has created for and in the heart of man. The ULTIMATE life experience intended by God becomes man’s reality; a glorious, worshipful relationship with HIM is ours as we in wisdom seek the LIGHT of the World (John 9:5), giving us life in him (John 1:4), abundantly (John 10:10).
Wise men living in an enlightened relationship with Jeus seek to bring gifts descriptive of a worshipful heart, as did the Magi of old. The gifts, well, here’s the narrative: “They fell down and worshipped him, and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts of gold, and frankincense, and myrrh”* (Matthew 2:11). Those precious gifts carried a special significance, highly symbolic, and Biblically meaningful. The gift of gold represented Christ’s kingship; he was born “the King of the Jews” (Matthew 2:2). “He shall reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there shall be no end” (Luke 1:33). Then, the gift of frankincense symbolized his sinless deity as the God-Man incarnate. That incense represents the sweet fragrance of our Lord in our worshipful fellowship with him. Jesus, full of grace and truth, was born to dwell as God in man (John 1:14), and then for man to dwell in sweet fellowship with Him as our Intercessor, mindfully merciful of our human frailties, “touch by the feeling of our infirmities” (Hebrews 4:15). Lastly, the gift of myrrh speaks of his substitutionary, sacrificial death for man’s sin: “For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin, that we might become the righteousness of God in him” (2 Corinthians 5:21). So, for redeemed man there is no more punishment, no hell, no unbiblical purgatory for “their sins and iniquities will I remember no more” (Hebrews 8:12). So, there are the gifts of the wise descriptive of the One worthy of worship. “He is King, they brought gold. He is the God-Man and they brought him frankincense. He is the Savior, they brought him myrrh. The gifts signify his sovereign dominion, sinless deity, and sacrificial death” (Rogers). Therein is the wisdom for our worship as we approach our King, our Intercessor, High Priest (Hebrews 9:11), and Savior. Such intriguing wisdom, when expressed from these heart-felt gifts can show forth our appreciation in worship to the Christmas Christ. May worshipful wisdom be yours as you fall humbly before the Lord as your KING: I will give him the golden wealth of worship, just as the wise men who “opened their treasures.” May worship be the treasure found in your heart, and then do open that heart with the treasure of worship for HIM. May the wisdom of worship be expressed as you give HIM the golden, kingly preeminence, claiming HIM as your God, having no other gods before him. Then, may it be said of you, I will offer up the incense of praise to the Incarnate One, now the Interceding One for me. Then, I will give him the symbolic worship oil of myrrh, commemorating his sacrifice: “For by one offering he hath perfected forever them that are sanctified … and their sins and iniquities will I remember no more” (Hebrews 10:14, 17). May we not fail in proudful, hardened hearts, but fall in humble, worshipful hearts before him, by cherishing HIM, the newborn Christ, born in us (John 3:3). May all three gifts enliven your relationship with Jesus, who was born to die, that we might die to self and sin, and live in him (Galatians 2:20). Yes, wise men still seek him: “If from thence thou shalt seek the LORD thy God, thou shalt find him, if thou seek him with all thy heart and with all thy soul” (Deuteronomy 4:29). When found, give him the gifts of the wise. Then, the Joy of Christmas is yours, found in your Bethlehem Wonder of his glorious presence, experienced as you offer your wisdom-gifts, HIS worthy presents of worship: gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
*So prophetic, myrrh was used as a spice for his burial, together with the mixture of aloe (John 19:39).