This week’s devotions are based upon our Christmas Morning message from Matthew 2:1-12 & Luke 2:1-20.
‘After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Messiah was to be born. “In Bethlehem in Judea,” they replied, “for this is what the prophet has written: “‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you will come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel.’” Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.” After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.’ (Matthew 2:1-12)
The narrative of Jesus’ birth does not tell us how many Magi there were. We are only told that they presented three gifts. Magi or ‘wise men’ is a broad term used for those who sought to predict the future. They would have travelled as a large group, taking around 40 days to cover the possible 800 miles possibly from Babylon. They bring Jesus three prophetic gifts that speak to us of how we are to worship Jesus. Let’s be clear, the Magi know what they are about. They have come to worship. They have brought specific gifts to worship. The wise come prepared to worship!
This speaks of royalty. Gold is an appropriate gift for a king ‘a ruler’. Everyone must choose who will rule in their lives. As a Citizen of the United Kingdom, we are under the rule of our queen and her government. Christians are of a different Kingdom. We are citizens of the Kingdom of God and obey Jesus. Worship is to obey Jesus as our Lord in every area of our lives. The phrase in The Lord’s prayer, “Your Kingdom come, Your will be done…” perfectly summarises our submissive worship. The wise come prepared to re-submit themselves to Christ. May we learn to sing,
“Born a king on Bethlehem's plain. Gold I bring to crown Him again. King forever, ceasing never. Over us all to reign…”
This points to worship. Frankincense is an appropriate gift for God. To worship is to express worth. We all worship; we all give worth and trust to something be it beauty, education, a career, relationships, technology… The gifts of the Magi remind us to worship Jesus. Worship is valuing and trusting God above all things. However, like the use of incense, it’s also acts of prayer, singing, scripture meditation, learning from God’s word etc. This is done personally, with friends and family and together with the church. The wise are prepared to actually make space and do the things that constitute worship. The carol continues,
“Frankincense to offer have I, Incense owns a Deity nigh, Prayer and praising, all men raising, Worship Him, God most high”
Myrrh speaks of death (it was commonly used in burial). Myrrh is an appropriate gift for someone who is going to die. Jesus’ death achieves our justification. Jesus’ death achieves our new life. Worship is only possible because of Jesus’ blood shed for us. He’s our offering for sin. He’s our high priest who has offered His blood for us. The carol continues,
“Myrrh is mine, it's bitter perfume, Breaths a life of gathering gloom, Sorrowing, sighing, bleeding dying, Sealed in the stone-cold tomb.”
THE WISE PREPARE TO WORSHIP
The wise don’t turn up empty-handed, because they have decided not to! Let’s be a people prepared to worship. The passion of our worship when we come together is the direct result of our personal investment in worship. May we come together with prepared hearts. Like the wise, let’s invest in worship. May our worship reaffirm Jesus as our King (gold), God (Frankincense), and substitute (Myrrh). If we are lacking an overflowing love for God, we need to be active in rekindling our faith. The mind is the doorway to the affections. Contemplate what these gifts mean and the treasure of our hearts will be realigned.
WE THREE KINGS
COMMUNITY GROUP NOTES AND STUDY
There are no Community Group meetings until January.