5 December 2010

Weird but wise gifts

Every Christmas morning we tear open our presents, hoping that our loved ones somehow received all our unsubtle hints over what to get us.But very often none of these messages hit home and before us is a bunch of very unwanted gifts. Disappointed, we force a smile, squeeze out a thank you and escape to watch Christmas TV. But before we start to feel sorry for ourselves, remember that the tradition of giving of bizarre gifts has been going on ever since the first Christmas! The wise men gave the baby Jesus three very weird gifts and each of them tell us something about who he is and what he came to do.

Gold = Jesus is king

It's not normal to give a newborn baby a pricey lump of gold. This is the sort of gift you'd offer a king, not a child born in a filthy stable. But appearances can be deceiving! The baby is the Christ – our rightful king and ruler.

Frankincense = Jesus is God

Again, this is a weird gift to give a baby! Incense was usually only offered to God in the temple. But that's the point – as a man Jesus proved himself to be God-on-earth with incredible miracles.  

Myrrh = Jesus will die

Finally, the wise men gave the baby Jesus myrrh – the strangest gift of all. In fact, this could well have offended Mary and Joseph since myrrh was used to embalm dead bodies. Imagine giving a newborn child a coffin to celebrate its entry into the world! What's going on? Thirty-three years later and king Jesus, God-on-earth, died on a cross for our sins. And this is the real message of Christmas: "Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners" (1 Timothy 1:15). Jesus offers us the gift of forgiveness and an eternal relationship with God.

A wise response to Jesus

They might have been strange gifts to a baby, but the wise men understood who Jesus is, and what he came to do. No wonder they bowed down and worshipped him! Will we do the same this Christmas? Unlike many of the gifts you'll receive this year, forgiveness and relationship with God will not leave us disappointed.

Andy Palmer
Associate Pastor