Merry Christmas! Happy Hanukkah! Happy Kwanzaa! Happy Solstice! Season’s Greetings! Happy Whatever-You-Celebrate-In-December!
I want to wish you an awesome holiday season full of joy, peace, and good tidings, and hopefully no fruitcake. I don’t think anyone likes fruitcake. But that’s beside the point.
Social media has become a place where the loudest argument wins, where we have the option to hide behind the safety and security of our screens and proceed to rip apart every statement that comes our way, even if it doesn’t concern us. We react violently instead of responding gracefully. We get offended by everything. We would rather unfriend and unfollow someone instead of discussing our differences over food and coffee.
The truth? It’s one huge distraction.
This month of December is a time where we are supposed to celebrate the birth of Jesus. This season is supposed to be a time of cheer and selflessness, Christmas caroling, Kevin saying, “Merry Christmas you filthy animal,” and Buddy the Elf shouting out “SANNTAAAA!” But I hardly see that nowadays.
Yep, I put that here because reasons.
Call me an idealist (ironically I’m an INFP), but we’re missing Jesus.
I was involved in this year’s Annual Virginia Christmas Spectacular by Thomas Road. During our Nativity scene, I had to introduce the band of scholars, the wise men, who followed a star until it led them to Jesus.
Turn with me to Matthew 2. After Jesus was born, the wise men (Magi) were summoned by King Herod to find the child so that he could worship Him (Spoiler alert: That wasn’t Herod’s intention!)
When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. And going into the house they saw the child with Mary His mother, and they fell down and worshipped Him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered Him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh.
I want to talk about the three gifts here: Gold, Frankincense, and Myrrh.
Gold – Jesus as King
Born a king on Bethlehem’s plain,
Gold I bring to crown Him again,
King forever, ceasing never over us all to reign.
Gold is a precious metal and is often used as a status symbol for those in royalty. It’s dense and very weighty. The elements of the tabernacle mentioned throughout Exodus and Solomon’s temple in 1 Kings 6 has elements created from pure gold or overlaid in gold.
Gold is incredibly valuable, but it’s also very soft. It can be bent, twisted, and beaten down, but that doesn’t change its identity.
Christ the King lived a life that we couldn’t live. He experienced good times and bad, joy and sorrow, trials and temptations. He was beaten down, attacked, and broken, but His identity as the Son of God never changed. He who knew no sin became sin so that we could become His righteousness.
Here’s the thing. There is no amount of gold that can even compare to the kingship of Christ. His kingdom will never end. His love and justice has the final word. You can mock Him, claim He doesn’t exist, challenge Him, but He is still God.
Christ is King forever and ever! Hallelujah!
For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given;
and the government shall be upon his shoulder,
and his name shall be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
7 Of the increase of his government and of peace
there will be no end,
on the throne of David and over his kingdom,
to establish it and to uphold it
with justice and with righteousness
from this time forth and forevermore.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this. — Isaiah 9:6-7
Frankincense – Christ as God
Frankincense to offer have I
Incense owns a Deity nigh.
Prayer and praising all men raising, worship Him, God on high.
Frankincense is a high quality composition. Some of you burn incense in your homes and it gives off a distinct fragrance. During Old Testament times, incense was burned daily and nightly as a constant offering to God. It accompanied sacrifices and was burned by the High Priest in the Holy of Holies on the annual Day of Atonement.
Incense represents the prayers and intercessions of people to a spiritual power. In this case, it’s the saints (Christ followers) to the Almighty Father, with Christ as the mediator. We offer our incense to God whenever we pray to Him. Did I mention that prayer is a weapon against the enemy? When you pray, God is working on your behalf. He will guide you, protect you, sustain you, but only if you call out to Him.
O Lord, I call upon you; hasten to me! Give ear to my voice when I call to You!
Let my prayer be counted as incense before you, and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice! — Psalm 141:1-2
And when [the Lamb] had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each holding a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. — Revelation 5:8
Myrrh – Christ as Sacrifice
Myrrh is mine: It’s bitter perfume
breathes a life of gathering gloom.
Sorry, sighing, bleeding, dying, sealed in a stone-cold tomb.
Myrrh served a few purposes. It was an ingredient in anointing oil, it was also an embalming agent, and a perfume.
Well, if myrrh seems like a good gift, then why is it associated with death per the last verse?
Take a look at Mark 15:23. This is where Jesus is being crucified. The sinless Son of God whom the Pharisees demanded His death is being forced to carry the cross to Golgotha (Place of a Skull). They nail Him to a cross. The suffering is excruciating.
Look up Roman crucifixion in your spare time. That’s what Christ went through for you and I.
And they offered Him wine mixed with myrrh, but He did not take it.
According to Jewish custom, those sentenced to crucifixion were given this mixture of wine and myrrh to deaden the senses, to make the pain more bearable. Jesus didn’t take it. He went through hours of pain with the weight of the sins of the world upon Him. When He died, they laid Him in a tomb, embalmed with spices and myrrh (John 19:39-42).
But that’s not the end of the story.
Three days later, the tomb is empty and Christ has risen in glory! The Son of God conquering death so that all who would believe would be born again! He has given us the task of spreading the good news of the Gospel, that He died for us, killing our sin, so that we can live with and for Him in this world and for eternity (Matthew 28:19-20, John 3:16).
The wise men’s gift of myrrh was a prophetic indication that He would be the great Sacrifice, the one who would give His life as a ransom for many (Matthew 20:28).
Glorious now behold Him arise,
King and God and Sacrifice
Earth to heav’n replies
For this Christmas season, remind yourself. It’s not about Santa Claus, the presents, or the jaded commercialism. Instead, it’s about one night in Bethlehem that changed the course of history; a prophecy hundreds, if not thousands, of years in the making.
The Baby Jesus, born of a virgin in a manger because there was no room in the inn.
The angels heralding of Christ’s birth to nearby shepherds.
The wise men a time later presenting their gifts to the future King, God, and Sacrifice.
Reflect on that, my friend. Read the stories for yourselves. Slow down and appreciate what God has done for you and I on this one particular, holy night.
Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. — Hebrews 4:14-16
Until next time, stay hidden in the shadow of His wings.
Merry Christmas and an awesome New Year!
Disagree? Let’s talk!