We are told in Matthew’s gospel that the Wise Men travelled a great distance across the Middle East, following a star, in order to find a baby who was born to be King. When they found him they bowed down, worshipped him, and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. I bet Mary didn’t have the problem of thinking ‘Oh dear, he’s already got one of those’!
I wonder which gift Jesus would have preferred?
Theologians and preachers often look for symbolism in these gifts – gold for a King, frankincense for a High Priest, myrrh symbolising his death for our sins. I wonder if Mary and Joseph kept the gifts in Jesus’ bottom drawer, or if they were God’s provision, as negotiable assets, for the family’s time in exile in Egypt?
And what might the gifts symbolise for us? Gold, an expression of our material wealth which, in itself, is a gift from God that we should offer back to him, for his service. Frankincense, offered daily in the temple, a symbol of our prayers and of our relationship with God. And myrrh, for anointing the dead, representing the daily sacrifice of our lives, reminding us of St Paul’s words to present our bodies to God as living sacrifices.
I wonder which of these Jesus prefers today?
Or would he prefer our worship and a heart attitude that bows down to him and acknowledges that he is Lord?
As we start a new year, let’s make a commitment, like the Wise Men, to offer Jesus the very best of what we have. But let’s not forget that our love and our worship will gladden his heart more than the value of the gifts we give.
Theophilus is the guy for whom Luke wrote the Gospel of Luke and the book of Acts. (Luke 1:3 and Acts 1:1) Theophilus means ‘Lover of God’ so, if you love God, it was written for you!