Matthew 2:11b “Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.”
One of my utmost favorite things to do as a mom–is making stories come to life to my children. If you are a good friend–then you have seen my story telling and the animation that goes into every story they hear. You want a good story to tell your children? Well, today’s Journey with the Magi will have them listening, learning and on the edge of their seats in amazement at how detailed and purposeful our God is! I don’t know another way to explain how to tell your children this…other than exactly how I told mine…so here goes…
Now–as you know the Magi had just finished worshiping Jesus…they were on their knees—and it was time to present the gifts they carried and protected for almost a thousand miles…over desert and valley and even through times of peace and war. Finally they were here–and can you imagine how excited they were?! Don’t you remember the feeling in your hearts??? When you have found the PERFECT gift…the gift you feel God Himself laid on your heart to surprise someone you couldn’t wait to see with—they thought they would RUN right up and give Jesus the gifts when they saw Him…but their hearts were overwhelmed His presense and they worshipped Him first.
Now while we know very little of where these wise men are truly from–tradition has passed down where many in the early church said they were from. And OH MY–were they long awaited for!!! Even books in the Bible said they would come!!! Psalm 72:10-11 “The kings of Tarshish and the Isles shall offer gifts, the kings of Arabia and Seba shall bring tribute. All kings shall pay their homage, all nations shall serve Him.” Isaiah 60:6…”Caravans of camels shall fill you, dromedaries from Midian and Ephah; all from Sheba shall come bearing gold and frankincense and proclaiming the praises of the Lord.” CRAZY that even the old testament said they would come…many, many, many years before Mary or Joseph or Jesus Himself was ever born!!! AND although we don’t know exactly where they were from tradition in the early church has said one was from Ethiopia…another possibly from Iran or Eqypt…some have said the east (China). Since the 7th century–they have been identified as Caspar, Melchior and Balthasar—and there is even a historical document written in 735 that tells us a little bit about each of them. NOW…keep in mind this isn’t written in the scriptures–but this could possibly be who they are…and we do know their gifts and what they meant…so let’s meet them!
First–meet Melchior…it is said he was a very old man with white hair and a long beard (Parker and Laney think we need to paint this one now:)(So…this is the younger Melchoir). It is said that Melchoir brought GOLD.
GOLD? Can you IMAGINE?! Oh my!!! Gold was meant for KINGS!!! Kings were the ones who had all the gold…and they were the ones that received gold as gifts in their honor. Can you imagine—I mean…really–can you IMAGINE what Mary was thinking? “MY SON??? You are giving Him gold. Gold is for kings…gold is for KINGS…it is TRUE–my son…the KING of KINGS!” He brought the gold and there he laid it at this baby’s feet. A gift for a KING…
Then…came Caspar. Caspar was said to be young and beardless and to have a ruddy complexion…(Yep–you guess it…Laney and Parker want to take away his beard now:)It is said the Caspar brought frankincense.
FRANKINCENSE??? Well…lemme tell you about this one! Frankincense comes from a tree called Boswellia…you create frankincense by slashing the tree–making it bleed resin and the resin eventually hardens which they call tears. Many priests would burn the tears–or FRANKINCENSE as an offering and it was also used for anointing by priests. SO…frankincense was something priests owned and others offered to priests as a sacrificial offering for anointing. He brought this gift that belonged to priests…and laid it at Jesus’s little tiny feet. Again…can’t you hear Mary’s wondering, “For my son??? A priest? He will be a KING and a PRIEST!?” Oh how this mom I’m sure was treasuring this all in her heart!
Then came Balthasar, black-skinned and bearded…(Laney and Parker had just about had it—they insisted we paint Balthasar…so we added a quick craft session to our devotion time last year on this night:)This Magi is said to be from Ethiopia…and he came last. He brought the gift of myrrh and laid it at his feet.
MYRRH??? “Oh wait,” Mary thought. “There must have been a mistake. Myrrh? For my little one? Maybe that was all this kind Magi had to give. Did he mean to give me this?” You guys know the feeling…you have gotten a gift before you just weren’t sure was really meant for YOU. But you are polite and you accept it. Mary thought more, “Why would this sweet soul bring us myrhh? This is what we use to heal wounds…to put on our loved ones when they die…to put in their bodies after death to keep them perserved a bit longer…he’s just a baby…” And I have a feeling Mary again–treasured these things in her heart.
As a family–take time to go back through the gifts and let them marvel in how they RELATED to Jesus…how they really were intended just for Him. Gifts for the King of Kings…the most High Priest (after all…when he was cruicified–the curtain would be torn and no longer would the high priest have to be the one who spoke on behalf of the people to God…ANYONE could because THE High Priest had come!) And…the myrrh…hard to take in…BUT take heart—because HE has overcome the world and through Him we have a relationship with Him…and life eternal.
Thank you for sending Jesus–to be our KING, to be our High Priest and to be the Lamb of God–to die for us so we might have eternal life. What a gift!!! We, too, want to come and bring our gifts to You Lord. Help us use our gifts for Your glory and to bring others to know You. Amen.
How did you see Jesus today??? Ask Him to speak to you, work through you and love through you as the day goes on. Ask Him to fill Your cup today–with His Holy Spirit…and to shine His presence through your life.
Blessings to you all today!
P.S. We’ll be doing Day 7 on Monday! So, if you are following along with us on the Journey of the Magi…see you then! Happy New Year!!!