Silver and Gold
“On coming to the house, they saw the Child with His mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped Him. They opened their treasures and presented Him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.”- Matthew 2:11
Light Saber. New York Mets jacket. Muhammad Ali vs. Joe Frazier boxing toy set. Electronic football. Miami Dolphins blanket. A superhero shirt. Annual wallet and sunglasses. These are just some of the gifts through the years that highlight my Christmas memories and light up my countenance like the Rockefeller Center Tree! We each have different gifts that have hit the mark and melted our hearts over the years. It could be a SPECIAL gift that was at the top of your wish list or that you would choose not to splurge on for yourself. It could have been a SYMBOLIC gift that was meaningful based on that specific year or special moment.
A ring that is given for a marriage proposal/engagement. A cruise that is given as a graduation gift. An annual Presidential ornament given to the church staff. A book that is given to tell the family story. These are also the meaningful gifts our family has experienced and received for special moments that far exceed the material item and value of the gift given. Each personalized gift that celebrates the “meaningful” reminds me of the words of the Apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians 9:15, who in the depths of gratitude found it difficult to adequately describe all that God had done for him, “Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!”
The story of the Wise Men bringing their gifts to Jesus, the newborn king, speaks to physical gifts given to mark a meaningful (MIRACLE) moment and special (SAVIOR) person. Many would be familiar with this Christmas narrative: the three amigos enter the place Jesus is, bowing down in worship and presenting their gifts to Him. What you may not be aware of is that each gift was not just special in substance, but specific in meaning and purpose for the Messiah, the King of the Jews.
The GOLD given was a symbol of the ROYALTY of Jesus as King. Gold was of the highest quality of metals in terms of it being precious, valuable, pure, and durable. This gift spoke to a superior king crowned to rule beyond all others and beyond all time. Psalm 119:72 tell us, “The laws from God’s mouth is more precious to me than thousands of pieces of silver and gold.”
The FRANKINCENSE given was a symbol of the DIVINITY of Jesus as God. Frankincense was a resin substance from balsam trees which could be grounded into powder to be used as incense. This gift spoke to an atmosphere of worship offered to the One who is holy, worthy, and glorious. In Exodus 30:34-38 frankincense is mentioned as one of the fragrant spices to be set apart to the Lord in worship of Him. In verse 36 the Lord commands Moses, “Grind some of it to powder and place in front of the ark of the covenant law in the tent of meeting, where I will meet with you. It shall be most holy to you.”
The MYRRH given was a symbol of the DEATH of Jesus as Savior. Myrrh was also a gummy substance that came from a tree used for perfume and incense. It often came from thorny shrubs of trees that were low to the ground and found in rocky places. How fitting that such a substance was used by the Ancient World for the embalming of the dead. In John 19:39-40 we see how that gift given thirty-three years earlier displays richer meaning at Christ’s death, “Nicodemus brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds. Taking Jesus’ body, the two of them wrapped it, with the spices, in strips of linen. This was in accordance with Jewish burial customs.”
As we come this Christmas let’s be reminded of the words of our Lord Jesus (Acts 20:35), “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” Let’s look for opportunities to bless people, to communicate value to them, and to give something meaningful that speaks to their identity, the relationship we have with them, the current season of life they find themselves in, or better yet, to the hope we have because of Jesus!
Let’s also be sure that we offer to Jesus through our worship, our obedience, our sacrifice, and our faith something that is pleasing to Him. Romans 12:1 commands us, “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.” Like the wise men we can follow the Light, we can worship the King, and we can give precious gifts. Let us give our time, hearts, and treasures in order to properly adore the One who loved us, rescued us, and provided us the perfect gift of His love, life, and victory!