Matthew 2:1-12 (NRSV)
Chapter 2In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, Verse 2asking, "Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star at its rising, and have come to pay him homage." Verse 3When King Herod heard this, he was frightened, and all Jerusalem with him; Verse 4and calling together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. Verse 5They told him, "In Bethlehem of Judea; for so it has been written by the prophet: Verse 6'And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who is to shepherd my people Israel.'" Verse 7Then Herod secretly called for the wise men and learned from them the exact time when the star had appeared. Verse 8Then he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, "Go and search diligently for the child; and when you have found him, bring me word so that I may also go and pay him homage."
Verse 9When they had heard the king, they set out; and there, ahead of them, went the star that they had seen at its rising, until it stopped over the place where the child was. Verse 10When they saw that the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy. Verse 11On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother; and they knelt down and paid him homage. Then, opening their treasure chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Verse 12And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they left for their own country by another road.
If we shared with one another what gifts we received for Christmas, we could learn something about each other. If I told you I like getting gift cards to restaurants, you would know I enjoy eating out. Indeed, as someone not yet married, I often find it easier to eat out than to cook for myself.
By looking at the gifts Jesus received in Matthew's story, we can know something about him and his mission. Jesus received gold, a gift fit for a king. Jesus received frankincense, an incense used by priests in offering worship and praise to God; this gift shows that Jesus is both our Great High Priest and God incarnate. Jesus also received myrrh, an aromatic resin used in ancient times for embalming the dead. The gift of myrrh points to Jesus' coming suffering and death. Indeed, taken together, these gifts of the wise men tell us a lot about this child of Mary and his destiny as God's Messiah.
Gracious Father, you sent your Son to be our King, our High Priest, God with us, and also as a sacrifice for our sins. May our lives bear witness to these truths. Amen.