Entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother, and falling to their knees, they worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts: gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Matthew 2:11
Over the next three weeks, we’re going to consider the three gifts the wise men brought to Jesus. Matthew calls them treasures which implies the value of the gifts. Now, scripture doesn’t implicitly state how many people came with these treasures. I tend to think it was a collection of wise men, maybe three, maybe a dozen, maybe more, but I also believe these guys had a retinue, an entourage, with them that included people like servants, drivers, and guards. No one in that era would have set off across the dangerous, bandit-filled desert and wilderness with such valuable cargo without some muscle and some weapons. Note, in Matthew 2:3, it says that Herod and all of Jerusalem were troubled when they heard why the wise men were there. Granted, Jerusalem was a gossipy town and news traveled fast, even without social media. But I think the arrival of the wise men was only slightly less ostentatious than the arrival of Prince Ali in Agrabah in Disney’s Aladdin.
The first treasure was gold.
This is the easy one. Since 5000 B.C. people have sought after and used gold. It has intrinsic value and since its discovery, it has always been a measure of wealth. It is beautiful. But it is also possessed by kings. The wise men were coming to see a king and a surefire, can’t miss gift for a king is gold. Some have speculated that the gold was immediately used to fund Joseph, Mary, and Jesus’s escape to Egypt. Further speculating, since it seems the family lived simply if there was gold left after the escape to Egypt, it may have helped Jesus’s brothers when it came time to find wives. Who knows.
What if we want to be wise?
The first steps to being wise like these visitors from the East are to do everything we can to get ourselves into the presence of Jesus. The next step is to recognize that He is king. The third step is to fall down and worship Him. Last, open our treasures.
But what if we don’t have bags of gold lying around?
We may not have gold, but we are richly blessed. This is a time when we can give generously, even sacrificially, to the work of spreading the Gospel of the Kingdom this Christmas. But beyond that, and more personally, what do we have that has intrinsic value? What do we have that’s beautiful, sought after? Let me suggest one that is a little abstract. Our time. It is a precious commodity, especially this month. What if we spent it on Jesus? Learning about Him? Connecting with Him? Laying our plans, our finances, our families at His feet, seeking His wisdom and His guidance?
Christmas for the wise men was to drop everything and put their lives on hold to seek and worship the King. When they found Him, they gave Him the best they had. Most of us have found Jesus already. What treasure will you, will I, open this week?
Read more from The Gifts series