Saturday, December 24, 2011

Neither Gold, Nor Frankincense, Nor Myrrh

Neither gold, nor frankincense, nor myrrh was the first Christmas gift. The most precious gift had already been given.
The Visit of the Magi 1 Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying, 2 “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw His star in the east and have come to worship Him.” 3 When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. 4 Gathering together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. 5 They said to him, “In Bethlehem of Judea; for this is what has been written by the prophet:
 7 Then Herod secretly called the magi and determined from them the exact time the star appeared.8 And he sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the Child; and when you have found Him, report to me, so that I too may come and worship Him.”
 9 After hearing the king, they went their way; and the star, which they had seen in the east, went on before them until it came and stood over the place where the Child was. 10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. 11 After coming into the house they saw the Child with Mary His mother; and they fell to the ground and worshiped Him. Then, opening their treasures, they presented to Him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. 12 And having been warned by God in a dream not to return to Herod, the magi left for their own country by another way.
     - The Gospel of Matthew, Chapter 2, Verses 1-12, NASB version
Star of Bethlehem, Magi - wise men or wise kin...
The Magi
Image by Wonderlane via Flickr

The Magi gave Jesus gifts of great value. Many will tell you that these were the first gifts of Christmas and that our tradition of exchanging presents began with them. And, perhaps, the giving of gifts on Christmas did descend from the offerings those Wise Men gave, but none of those was the very first gift of Christmas.

The first gift was to all mankind from our Creator. It came in the form of a babe in swaddling clothes who was born in a lowly manger. It was God's gift of eternal life.

Though the temptation is great, do not despise your enemies, for any among us might turn our gaze to Heaven at any time and ask for that one gift; that gift which has already been given freely; the gift we can never repay, but may only embrace. It is the gift of God's love, made manifest in the form of a child born in Bethlehem who assumed both the form of man and the weight of our sins.

   16 “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.     - The Gospel of John, Chapter 3, Verses 16 - 17

Merry Christmas!



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