Week of December 24
Gold, Frankincense and Smurfs
By Skip Heitzig
A Sunday School teacher was teaching her class the Christmas story, and she stopped part way through and asked the kids some questions, to make sure they understood it. She asked, "What were the gifts that the three magi brought to Jesus?" A five-year-old piped up and said, "Gold, frankincense, and Smurfs." Well unfortunately, theologically-inclined adults haven't done a whole lot better than that kid.
The story in Matthew 2 goes, "And when they had come into the house, they saw the young Child with Mary His mother, and fell down and worshipped Him. And when they had opened their treasures, they presented gifts to Him: gold, frankincense and myrrh."
These three noble gifts were predictive of His life. Gold was the metal of kings. The ancient custom was when you stand before a king you must always bring a gift, and the best thing to give a king would be gold. Second on the list was frankincense, a very costly fragrance from the east. Frankincense was used in the meal offering by the priesthood of Israel. And so as gold reminds us that Jesus is the King, frankincense speaks of the great High Priesthood of Jesus Christ.
And finally, not "smurfs" but myrrh. This was a curious gift. But in ancient times myrrh was mixed with aloes to make an embalming fluid (see John 19:39), so this was predictive as well. For the angel said, "You will call His name Jesus for He will save His people from their sins." And how would He do that? He would die on a cross.
What I want you to notice here is that their worship began before they gave any gifts (Matthew 2:11). Just picture these royal, esteemed visitors getting on their knees and bowing. They prostrated themselves before that little Child, as an act of worship and humility. They gave themselves in worship before they gave any kind of gift.
Now understand something: God is way more interested in your heart than He is your money. God wants you more than He wants any gift. He wants your heart, He wants you to commit your life to Him personally and do what these wise men did. There's an old song by Keith Green with a classic line in it. "To obey is better than sacrifice. I don't need your money, I want your life." And that's what these wise men were saying. "We have come to worship Him."
Their gifts were appropriate. But even more appropriate was their worship. It was their "reasonable service." I invite you to look at Romans 12:1-2 as you celebrate this season. And Merry Christmas!
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Also included is a DVD presentation by Dr. Collins as he explains the newest findings in his excavation of a massive ancient ruin called Tall el-Hammam in southwestern Jordan, which he believes to be the site of Sodom.