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. Matthew 2:11
If you’re a long-time follower of Jesus, some of this may be old-hat. Bear with me anyway because there’s something about it you might not have already noodled.
We don’t know if there were three kings or more. As we’ve discussed before, we don’t even know if the men who showed up at the Nativity were even kings, or if they were wealthy men, or professors, or Zoroastrian astrologers. From this verse, we know there were three gifts that were recorded as being presented to the baby Jesus. That’s’ it.
In fact, the baby Jesus may not have been a baby anymore. He might have been a toddler by this time. He might have been older, and no longer residing in a stable. The verse itself says “to the house.” Not the stable, not a barn, not a big cleft in a rock where animals were kept. The other Gospels don’t mention the magi. By this time, Jesus, Mary, and Joseph were in a house.
Ask yourself this: does it matter? Sure, the next time you set out your nativity scene, you want it to represent what really happened. But does the historical accuracy of it really matter? Not if you’re an atheist, or an unbeliever, or not a follower of Jesus. To them, this is nonsense anyway. And, not if you’re a modern-day professor; see the immediate-prior listing of people (as well as their usual conclusion). And, not even if you’re a zealous, devoted follower of Jesus.
What matters is that the people who showed up at Chez Joseph worshipped Jesus, and presented Him with their best gifts. From the heart, like we should; just like the reason for Christmas (and Epiphany) anyway. Thinking about that, I like O’Henry’s famous story, “The Gift of the Magi.” In it, a husband and wife give each other sacrificial gifts from the heart that cost them dearly so that the other might enjoy a gift of love. At the end of the story, O’Henry compares their ironic gifts to those of the wise men, whose gold, incense, and myrrh, were valuable gifts for a king but hardly fit for a baby in poverty.
If you don’t know what it’s used for, go look up myrrh. At the birth of Jesus, it’s prophetically ironic.
We don’t know what happened to the gifts. Perhaps Mary and Joseph sold them for food. Or saved them for a later time. And we’ll soon learn what the magi did next. But, as I asked earlier, does it really matter? Isn’t what matters most eternity, and the eternal worship of the heart that these gifts of the magi represent?
For more reading: Psalm 72:10, Isaiah 60:3, Matthew 2:12
Lord, thank You for the examples of the Magi.