Matthewâ€¬ â€2:10-11 â€œWhen 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.â€â€â€â€¬
You might be forgiven for thinking that these opulent gifts of great worth, brought by the Magi and placed at the feet of the baby Jesus, were designed to ease the passage of the new born king into the world.
Especially, considering that Luke tells us that when Mary and Joseph went to Jerusalem to make the offering in accordance with the law for purification rites, they offered in accordance with their means; the poorer offering of doves and pigeons, instead of a lamb. So the idea that Mary and Joseph were probably fairly poor is borne out in scripture. And so these valuable gifts might make logical sense.
But the reality of the gift giving is much more significant than that. When you give a gift which stretches your means (as Mary the sister of Martha did with her nard), you make a statement about how you measure the worth of the one you are giving to. You are saying, “you are more valuable to me than these things!” That’s why gift giving with a mean spirit is dishonouring – you haven’t stretched, therefore you haven’t loved so much.
These gifts were high high value items and they send a clear message from the Magi to Jesus: “Jesus, to us you are better than frankincense, you are better than myrrh and gold; even if you put them altogether, you’re better!”
Jesus was their treasure; not the ownership of commodities, not riches and wealth, but the baby incarnate God.
I wonder what our gifts would have looked like. Would they have expressed how much we value Jesus? Christmas is so often about accumulating stuff, but if our hearts are giddy with gifts, then how can they possibly be giddy with Jesus? And that’s what they should be. They should be leaping with joy like those of the Magi, when they saw the star!
Jesus said, “where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Perhaps we could all spend some time this Christmas asking where our treasure truly is.