They saw the Child with Mary His mother; and they fell to the ground and worshiped Him.
Matthew 2:9-10 describes the wise men’s journey from Jerusalem to Bethlehem: “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. When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy.” Matthew was at a loss for words to describe the joy the magi felt when they found the Christ Child, so he piled on the superlatives: “They rejoiced exceedingly with great joy.” That is how happy the wise men were to find the Christ Child.
In verse 11, we see the worship of the wise men: “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.” Notice they came to “the house.” Mary and Joseph were no longer in the stable, telling us that some months, perhaps a year, had passed when the wise men arrived. And the magi brought gifts to Jesus that may have been more practical than we think.
First of all, the wise men brought gold. Gold was an appropriate gift for royalty. You never approached a king without bringing gold. This gift was certainly symbolic of Jesus’ right to rule not just over Israel but over the world. There was probably a practical aspect to this gift, too. God was about to send Mary, Joseph, and Jesus to Egypt to protect them from Herod, and this gold very well could have been the means of their livelihood during the time they were in Egypt.
Second, the wise men offered frankincense. Incense was used in worship in the temple. It was mixed with flour and wheat offerings, providing a pleasant aroma that would come up from the sacrifice, signifying that God was pleased with the offering of His people. Jesus Christ was going to be the ultimate offering to God for the sins of the world. By bringing Him incense, it was as if the magi were saying, “Jesus, You are going to be the most pleasing offering to God ever.”
Third, the wise men gave Him myrrh. That was a strange gift to bring to a baby, because in Jesus’ day the primary use of myrrh was as a preservative for a corpse. John’s Gospel says that when Jesus died, Nicodemus went to the tomb with 100 pounds of myrrh and aloes in order to preserve Jesus’ body (John 19:39). Can you imagine how strange it would be for Mary and Joseph to open the baby gifts and find myrrh? It would be like you going to a baby shower today and giving the baby a miniature casket. Imagine the reaction you would get from the parents when you did that! But that is what the magi were saying: “Here is a baby that was born to die.”
Through their gifts, the magi showed the deity of Jesus, the acceptableness of Jesus to God the Father, and the sufficiency of Christ’s death for our sins.
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Wise Men Still Seek Him” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2017.
Scripture quotations are taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. (www.lockman.org)