Sunday, December 07, 2008

Did You Ever Wonder...?

It’s Christmas time. When Christmas time draws near, we read and reread the Christmas story from the Bible. One of my favorite parts is the visit of the Magi. (go figure!)

Matthew 2

The Visit of the Magi

1After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi[a] from the east came to Jerusalem 2and asked, "Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east[b] and have come to worship him."

3When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. 4When he had called together all the people's chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Christ[c] was to be born. 5"In Bethlehem in Judea," they replied, "for this is what the prophet has written:
6" 'But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for out of you will come a ruler
who will be the shepherd of my people Israel.'[d]"

7Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. 8He sent them to Bethlehem and said, "Go and make a careful search for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him."

9After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen in the east[e] went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. 10When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. 11On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh. 12And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.

The Escape to Egypt

13When they had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. "Get up," he said, "take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him." 14So he got up, took the child and his mother during the night and left for Egypt, 15where he stayed until the death of Herod.

Have you ever wondered about the gifts that the Magi brought?

I’ve heard sermons that talk about the gifts themselves...odd gifts for a child—gold, frankincense and myrrh. Gold, a gift for a king. Frankincense, a gift for a priest. Myrrh (the strangest of all), a burial spice. (but that's all stuff for another post)

I think that God sometimes has an odd way of presenting us with the gifts that we will need. Often times they come in such a way that we readily dismiss them as coincidence. All of these gifts were valuable. I’m just making a guess that Joseph and Mary weren’t very wealthy people. I doubt that they were ready to move suddenly or take a long journey. Surely they would need supplies for the journey. They didn’t have the time to sell the goods that they couldn’t carry with them—at least, not at a good price. The Bible says that they left in the night. They may have taken some things...but they couldn't have taken much.

Somehow I see God providing Joseph with some quick getaway cash and also with something to sell later on. He would need funds to escape and then he would need a way to provide for his family. Maybe he would sell the incense to buy tools for his trade or to find a home once his family arrived in Egypt. The Bible never makes another mention of the gifts.

It just seems too well planned for this family of modest means to be given gifts of great wealth right before God tells them to move to a far away land. It makes me wonder...it causes me to do a little self examination. What gifts has God provided me with? And for what purpose? What gifts has God provided you with? And again, for what purpose? Are we using the gifts that He has given us for the purpose that He intended? Or have we decided to use them for our own benefit? Or maybe we’ve decided not to use them at all.

I was just wondering.

John

Footnotes:

  1. Matthew 2:1 Traditionally Wise Men
  2. Matthew 2:2 Or star when it rose
  3. Matthew 2:4 Or Messiah
  4. Matthew 2:6 Micah 5:2


3 comments:

Mike said...

ARGGGGG! The copyright thing is bugging the heck outa' me. You could add the copyright to the bottom of your left column. Start it off with - all NIV references are covered by this copyright notice.

I think the copyright notice messes up the post. But it does give ME something to comment about. So on second thought.....

Sherer said...

Very interesting thoughts on a familiar passage. I would like very much to hear more about the Myrrh (what an inappropriate gift - assuming your the parents).

Interesting topic gifts - in someways it seems everything we are given is indeed a gift. And other times in our life it seems our gifts are few and far between. (David can testify to this)



Jesse

Claudia said...

It's logical that the gifts of the Magi were objects the family could use if needed for survival; it would be like the Jesus we know and love to have used them to help someone else.