“Gift Fit for …”

Matthew 2:1-12


            As with most Christmas hymns, we pretty much have only the first verse of them memorized.  That’s not necessarily a bad thing, however, by only having the first verse memorized, we can easily miss out on the depth and the true meaning of the hymn. 

            Take “What Child Is This” for example.  The first verse asks the question … what child is this who is sleeping on Mary’s lap?  Who is the child that angels all of a sudden appear in the night sky and sing sweet anthems to shepherds who are watching their sheep?  We learn by the end of the first verse that this pretty special child is Christ the King, the one whom shepherds guard and angels sing.  So because of this, you should hurry up and bring him praises as well.

            The meat of the song is in the next verse.  This child in question, he is the one who will silently go before God on behalf of you and me.  He is the one who will have nails pierced through his hands, a spear in the side as he hangs on the cross in our place.  This child, he is the one who will redeem and restore sinners like you and me.

             The same thing could be said about our sermon hymn of “We Three Kings of Orient Are.”  The first verse tells us about these three kings who are bearing gifts.  Being that they are from the Orient, they have to travel a long way.  Essentially it’s a nicer and more theological version of singing, “over the hills and the through the woods to the Savior’s house we go.”  These three kings see this really bright start and follow it with the goal that this bright star will guide us to God’s perfect light.

            But there has to be more than these three kings traveling over the hills and through the woods to the Savior’s house right?  These kings, these Magi, our song and Matthew tells us “opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh” (2:11).  The song in the middle verses tries to break down and give meaning to these different gifts. 

Throughout history, different attempts have been made to interpret symbolically the gifts of the Magi.  The number and the variety of those attempts to do so shows that there really isn’t enough data to support any sort of symbolism.  Matthew in our reading doesn’t put a whole lot of emphasis on these gifts besides simply mentioning them.  These gifts which the Magi bring, they are similar to gifts which were brought to kings in the Old Testament.  The gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh are gifts which are fit for a king, gifts fit for an earthly king.

            Going with traditional interpretation of the Magi found in Matthew’s gospel, going with Christmas nativity scenes we put the Christmas programs we put on, and with songs we sing, like our sermon hymn … we typically believe that there are three Magi.  Sometime back around the 8th century, names were even given of the three Magi.  They have become known most commonly as Bathasar, Melchior, and Gaspar.  According to the tradition of the Western church, Bathasar is a king of Arabia or Ethiopia, Melchoir is a king of Persia, and Gaspar is a king of India.

            But I offer this question to you … what if there was more than three?  What if there was say a fourth?

Skit Guys Video – the Fourth Wise Man

            Whether there were two or three or four or ten, the Magi brought gifts for a king.  What is it that we bring before him?

            We could say we bring our love, our dedication, our praises.  But even at that, do we bring him all of them.  Anything we bring before him, anything we bring before Jesus … it’s tainted.  It’s tainted with sin.  It’s tainted with my self-pride, my selfishness.  It’s tainted with my lack-luster life.  Isaiah says that “all our righteous acts are like filthy rags” (64:6).  Approaching Jesus with our résumé of good deeds won’t get us nowhere. 

            Like the fourth guy in the video said … Jesus is a gift to us.  A gift fit for sinners.  A gift which we see through the coming of these gentile, these non-Jewish, Magi … Jesus is a gift for all people.  Again Isaiah says at the end of the Suffering Servant song of Isaiah 52 and 53, “For he {Jesus}bore the sin of many and made intercession for the transgressors” (53:12). 

            Jesus bore the sins not just of some, not just of the Jews, not just of the high and mighty, the pretty and the powerful, no … Jesus came, Jesus came to be born in a messy manger.  A messy manger in the shadows of society for people who live in the shadows.  He came to live the perfect life according to God’s command, to suffer and die on the God-forsaken cross in our place, and then he rose from the grave for people, for people like you and me who have nothing to offer him.  Jesus did this for you and me.  He did not because he knew it was going to hurt like everything and because he wanted to suffer.  No … Jesus did all that he did, he did it out of his amazing love and mercy for you, so that you can be with him. 

            That is the greatest gift which anyone could ever offer.  As King of kings and Lord of Lords, as the very Son of God … Jesus doesn’t need anything from us.  He doesn’t need anything, but he wants our love, our dedication to him, our praises and our prayers.  As lack luster as they may be at times … those are gifts fit for a Savior.

            The star of wonder, star of night, star with royal beauty bright led the Magi to the Savior of the world.  May the light of Christ shining forth from an empty tomb, be the bright beacon which leads us back to him.  May the light of Christ shining forth from our lives, bring others in desperate need of healing to the King of all kings so that they may receive the gift fit for them.  Amen.

            The peace of God, which surpasses all human understanding, guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus our Lord, now and forever.  Amen.


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