Then Herod called for a private meeting with the wise men, and he learned from them the time when the star first appeared. Then he told them, “Go to Bethlehem and search carefully for the child. And when you find him, come back and tell me so that I can go and worship him, too!”
After this interview the wise men went their way. And the star they had seen in the east guided them to Bethlehem. It went ahead of them and stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were filled with joy! They entered the house and saw the child with his mother, Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasure chests and gave him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
When it was time to leave, they returned to their own country by another route, for God had warned them in a dream not to return to Herod. (Matthew 2:7-12)
At Christmastime, we think of giving gifts, remembering the gifts of the wise men. Jesus was probably one or two years old when the magi found him. By this time, Mary and Joseph were married, living in a house, and intending to stay in Bethlehem for a while.
Not much is known about these magi (traditionally called “wise men”). We don’t know where they came from or how many there were. Tradition says they were men of high position from Parthia, near the site of ancient Babylon. They may have been Zoroastrians and astrologers. The magi gave these expensive gifts because they were worthy presents for a future king. Bible students have seen in the gifts symbols of Christ’s identity and what he would accomplish. Gold was a gift for a king; incense, a gift for a deity; myrrh, a spice for a person who was going to die. These gifts may have provided the financial resources for Mary and Joseph’s trip to Egypt and back.
The magi worshiped Jesus for who he was. This is the essence of true worship—honoring Christ for who he is and being willing to give him what is valuable to you.
What gift will you offer Jesus to honor him and show your gratitude? The best gift you can give is yourself.