They entered the house and saw the child in the arms of Mary, his mother. Overcome, they kneeled and worshiped him. Then they opened their luggage and presented gifts: gold, frankincense, myrrh. Matthew 2:11 (MSG)
No nativity scene is complete without The Three Wise Men, but they weren’t at the manger the night Jesus was born. They traveled from afar and since they were traveling on foot, horse or camel didn’t make it to the manger that night.
The details of the Magi, or wise men, are uncertain. It seems they had an odd mix of astrology and knowledge of Jewish prophecy that has caused some to speculate they were Babylonian in descent, and influenced by Jewish traditions from the 700 years of Jewish enslavement.
The wise men are associated with the three gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. In reading this passage I see three different things associated with them; fear, joy and worship.
When the wise men showed up and asked where the newborn king was, Herod and the entire city of Jerusalem was disturbed. Herod was concerned about his throne. The people of Jerusalem worried that some new king was coming to overthrow King Herod and change things. Change is not usually a welcomed guest. Jesus can be disturbing, even to those of us who love Him. Kings don’t share the throne. To recognize Christ as the newborn king means change. What does it mean if I say Jesus is the king of my life? It means I have to give up the throne; there is no room for Jesus to squeeze in beside me and the two of us rule together. That can be disturbing.
The wise men moved on to find the newborn king. When they did they found a child and his mother, which was no surprise. Oddly they didn’t find Jesus in the palace. They found Him at home with His mom. Jesus can also be surprising. A king should be in royal digs. There should be hoopla and regalia. This was a boy and His mom, in the simple home of a carpenter, simply living. Sometimes Jesus is surprising; not at all what one would expect. Do you know people who think Jesus is really someone He’s not: vindictive, vengeful, intolerant? Is that person you? When you come to see Jesus is your expectation tainting the actual person He truly is? They were looking for a baby. They were looking for a king. I don’t think they were looking for a carpenter’s son. What an interesting surprise Jesus can be, not a distant highfalutin king, but a carpenter’s son and still the Son of God.
In spite of not finding the king that looked like the one they were expecting, when they saw Him, they knew it was Him. They opened up the now famous gold, frankincense and myrrh. What about the first gift they gave? Did you see it in the passage in Matthew? They bowed down and worshiped Him. It was after worship they gave the tangible, wonderful gifts they carried throughout the journey. Worship is so often downplayed. Gold and the spices of the temple and the rich: these were, no doubt, extravagant gifts in the home of a carpenter, but they weren’t the first gift. The first gift was something unique and therefore invaluable. It was worship.
The wise men came to worship; to seek this newborn king. If you do the same, you’ll find a king who wants to have the throne, but who rules with immeasurable love. He’s not what you may think. God came to be with us in this Newborn King. When you realize who He is, you’ll begin to understand that all of the great and wonderful things you can do are the secondary gifts you have to give, the first best gift is worship!