Monday, December 19, 2011
Wiser than We Thought
Gold. Frankincense. Myrrh. Ask someone about the part played in the Christmas story by the three wise men and you will most likely hear about the gifts they brought to baby Jesus. It figures. Mention Christmas and the focus goes right to gifts. In this story, however, as in our customary gift-heavy celebration of the holiday itself, we have missed something very important.
First, these wise men were not just some smart guys who decided to take a trip together. These men were kings, rulers of ancient realms. They commanded wealth and armies. They owned slaves and employed servants. Normal relations with neighboring kingdoms usually involved battle, not field trips. But on this occasion, they did not send emissaries. And they ignored, for this venture, their differences.
Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw His star in the east and have come to worship Him.--Matthew 2:2
Kings do not visit other baby kings. Rulers of the ancient Orient did not like one another. They were more likely to send a spy or an assassin than bring a gift. Obviously, something here was different.
On coming to the house, they saw the child with His mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped Him.--Matthew 2:11
They worshiped Him. The gifts were symbolic, gold and spices, but they came for another purpose. They came to worship.
As I look at my Christmas preparations--the baking, the decorations, the tree, and, of course, the mound of gifts--have I remembered what those kings knew? In that first Christmas season, they put away their privilege and prejudice to bow down before the King of Kings. They made themselves humble in a foreign land, disregarding custom, to worship the Son of God.
Forget the gifts. They don't matter. Forget the gifts and worship the baby. It's worth the trip.