“There shall come a Star out of Jacob, and a Sceptre shall rise out of Israel” (Numbers 24:17).
For a long time those who studied the constellations believed that a star would signal the birth of a mighty king in the land of Israel. The Magi were wise men who studied ancient texts and also studied the universe. They saw an unusual star and surmised that this must be the sign of the Messiah promised in the Jewish Scriptures. They took the word of God seriously and were among the first to celebrate Christmas. One cannot come to Jesus without coming to His word and believing it. Remember, “Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17).
Seeking After God
The Lord says, “Ye shall seek Me, and find Me, when ye shall search for Me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:13). The wise men were devoted to finding the truth and doing whatever was necessary to verify it for their own hearts and minds. They traveled from an area around Persia (which includes modern-day Iraq, Afghanistan, and Iran) to make their way to the place where the star led them. It is estimated that a trip by camel caravan would have taken up to six months to complete. Despite the cost and dangers involved, their fervent hearts drove them to see for themselves what the Scriptures declared.
We have seen how the Magi sought Him, now let’s look at what they brought Him!
The Gift of Gold
Gold was a gift given to a king. The Magi believed they had found the King when they finally made their way to Jesus. The amount of gold they gave Him is not mentioned, but this act should remind us that now is a great time to align your spending with your faith. One preacher I knew made a commitment to give more money to missions every Christmas than he would spend for any one person’s gifts. That is a great policy—and a wonderful way to honor Jesus.
The Gift of Frankincense
Frankincense was a costly sweet-smelling incense. The Jewish people burned incense in the Temple as a sign of their prayers being sent up to God. The Magi gave Jesus a gift that revealed great respect and faith that He would be able to hear and answer man’s needs. Indeed, Jesus is our Advocate—seated now at the right hand of God. He intercedes for us when we pray. We should be praying for lost friends, for each other, and for missionaries around the world who are serving God in some very dangerous places. When you think of the frankincense, let it remind you to pray, and in the process let it remind you to praise and honor Him who hears and answers your prayers.
The Gift of Myrrh
Myrrh was a product used in burial. Strangely, the Magi brought this gift to Jesus. Whether they knew it or not, they were honoring the One who would die for the sins of the world. That baby in the manger at Bethlehem was more than a mere man. He was the One who would go to Calvary and pay for our sins. We cannot properly celebrate Christmas without remembering that Jesus came to die for you and for me. Christmas is a sweet and special time, but we must not leave out the fact that this baby had the shadow of the cross stretched across His manger.
The Bible says that the Magi “fell down, and worshipped” Jesus. This is what we must learn and relearn as believers. Let us honor the One born in Bethlehem, the One who lived without sin, the One who died in our place, the One who rose from the dead, and the One who will never leave us nor forsake us. Never let us be silent about what God has done for us.
—J. Mike Minnix, adapted