The Best Christmas Gift
Posted: December 24, 2015
Christmas is a time for giving. Sure, it’s fun receiving gifts and seeing family, but Christmas is really about the giving. Most everyone over the age of 6 or 7 knows that. Many people take this time to think back to the first Christmas gift.
It happened more than 2,000 years ago. “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son.” Imagine that amazing scene in the pasture! Shepherds were guarding their flock when suddenly, a host of angels appeared around them.
Some of the definitions for the word host include “a large number” and “an army”. The term is now actually associated with a “heavenly host.” That’s a lot of angels!
The Bible tells us they were singing, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will to man” (Luke 2:14). This was the second gift: the gift of praise.
They were singing about the birth of Jesus, who came to save the world from sin. In just over three decades, he would be crucified on a cross and raised from the dead three days later.
This was a big deal. It was everything, really. God had made a way, albeit an unexpected one, to reconcile man to himself. And this was the night that the King was born who would do it.
But did you know there was a third Christmas gift? Most of us have heard of the three wise men too. As the song goes, “We three kings of Orient are, bearing gifts, we travel afar. Field and fountain, moor and mountain, following yonder star.”
The star had suddenly appeared over Bethlehem, the birth place of the Savior. It must have been brilliant to attract so much attention. It was even named the “Star of Bethlehem.” It was that star that caused the Magi to start their long journey.
You have to remember, they had to come a very long way. Bethlehem was in what scholars call the Ancient Near East. These men likely came from the Far East and traveled up to two years to get there, arriving as much as two years after Jesus’ birth.
We tend to think of it like three men on three camels, but these were very unique men. Bible scholars have verified their existence through non-Bible historical documents, and many believe they were esteemed astrologers from Arabia, Persia, and India.
It wasn’t just three men, either. There were likely additional pack animals and servants. There were probably armed men to protect them and the treasure they brought as gifts. It was likely a very large retinue.
Something had touched them, to such a degree that they were willing to give up their lives of affluence for several years. They were willing to undergo great hazards and travel great distances to see the new King. This gift of sacrifice was the third Christmas gift.
We all recognize the Magi’s gifts as gold, frankincense, and myrrh. But there was a special significance associated with each of them. There are two major schools of thought on this: One describing the physical significance and one describing the spiritual.
The physical significance was simple. These were gifts fit for a king. They were given to one who would reign here on Earth. But the spiritual significance is even more astonishing: Gold symbolized the kingship of Christ on Earth. Frankincense was a symbol of Christ’s divinity. And myrrh was an anointing oil, often used when embalming.
These amazing gifts spoke of Jesus coming kingship, his divinity, and also his purpose: to lay himself down just thirty-three years later in the most unexpected way possible. He became a sacrifice for all of us, and that was the greatest gift of all. Merry Christmas!