This series was well received last year. You may view this as a repeat. I prefer to think of it as re-gifting.
Blessings and Merry Christmas!
We are fast approaching the hardest day of the year for most men. Many of us men give gifts to our significant others with fear and trembling. Humor writer Dave Barry relates the confusion most men deal with when giving a gift to their wife.
He could tell by her reaction to the gift that she had not been dreaming of getting an auto emergency kit, even though it was the deluxe model with booster cables and an air compressor. Clearly, this violated an important rule, but the man had idea what the rule was, and his wife was too upset to tell him.
Barry continues his thoughtful treatise…
So why is the Christmas season so difficult for men? There are many complex reasons, by which I mean: women. The problem goes back to the very first Christmas. We know from the Bible that the Wise Men showed up in Bethlehem and gave the baby Jesus gifts of gold,frankincense, and myrrh. Now Gold is always a nice gift, but frankincense and myrrh - at least according to my dictionary - are gum resins.
Barry asks the vital question…
Who gives gum resins to a baby? The answer is…Men. The three wise men…being men, didn't even start shopping for gifts until the last minute, when most of the stores in the greater Bethlehem area were closed for Christmas Eve. The only place still open was Big Stu's House of Myrrh.
Even though Barry's interpretation of the Gospels might be a little suspect…I do think he is correct about the difficulty in finding the right gift to give to Jesus on his birthday.
On December 24th or 25th most of us will exchange gifts on Jesus's birthday. Suppose you had a big party for me to celebrate my humble birthday this April. All of my close friends and acquaintances show up and you all start exchanging gifts on my birthday. But there is nothing for me. Oh, someone might mention my name now and then. But I just sit and I sit and I watch others open gifts. Then someone mentions how grateful they are for Dave's birthday so we could all be together. I become hopeful. But then someone else yells that the refreshments are ready so everyone rolls into the kitchen and I am left sitting there….no gifts on my birthday. I wonder if we don't do that exact thing to Jesus. We have reason for the season signs and all of that. But it is so easy to get all caught up and not even think of a gift for the guest of honor at our Christmas celebrations.
So what can you give the Lord of the Universe? If you think your mother-in-law is tough to buy for what do buy for the Saviour who has everything? Believe it or not…I decided to go back to the Three Wise Men and see if there was more to their gifts than first appears. What is the story behind these gum resin gifts? What is up with the gifts presented by the Magi? The simplest meaning is that these men brought items which, in their experience, represented the greatest worth. All of these gifts were rare, precious and expensive. Whatever else we may learn from this story, we know that they gave their best in honor to the One they believed to be the King, the Messiah. It's interesting that we don't know the names of the Magi but we know what they gave. We don't know where they came from but we know that they worshiped the Christ child.
They entered the house and saw the child in the arms of Mary, his mother. Overcome, they kneeled and worshiped him.
The first important point is that the Magi did not visit the Baby Jesus at the stable so our Nativity scene on the mantle is chock full of Biblical errors. They showed up at the house and it is clear that the gifts were a part of their worship. They bowed down before Him, and they offered Him gifts. What an amazing spirit that must have surrounded that child that caused men of importance, wealth and education to fall down before Him!
The miracle of God becoming man… He became what we are so that He might make us what He is.
Then they opened their luggage and presented gifts: gold, frankincense, myrrh. Matt 2:11 (MsgB)
The first gift mentioned is gold.
Gold was the usual offering presented to kings by their subjects, or those wanting to pay respect. Gold has always held extremely high value - as long ago as 2,500 BC, gold was especially prized, and used as a medium of exchange. Even today when investments get shaky you start hearing about buying gold as a hedge against economic downturns. The value of gold seems to be a constant in our civilization. In both the Old Testament Tabernacle and the Temple, gold was used plentifully and was clearly associated with worship.
So should we give Jesus gold on His birthday? Most of us have a rather limited supply of gold. I am going to suggest that we give Jesus a commodity that is as valuable in today's culture as gold was in the time of the Magi. That commodity of great value is time. When I think of gifts that we can give to Jesus…is there anything more precious than our time?
When you love someone you want to spend time with them. If you say you love your wife but you go several days or weeks without talking to her she might be suspicious. When we say we love our children but we can't work them into the schedule they begin to have doubts. When a young couple falls in love they want to spend every moment together. When they are apart they think of each other. As Percy Sledge famously sang that when a man loves a woman he can't keep his mind on nothing else.
So we say we love Jesus. But we probably have little difficulty thinking of something else. We tell others that He is the center of our universe…but we can't carve out the time to spend with Jesus to develop that relationship. I am confessing here that I have been guilty of this far too often in my journey with Jesus. My lips confess my commitment to Him but my time with Him reveals my true priorities. The uncomfortable truth for me as a husband…as a father…and as a follower of Christ is that my calendar reveals my heart. I make time for the things that are most important to me.
Gift suggestion number one for Jesus on His birthday…give Him a little time. Sit down with Him…talk to Him…enjoy His company.
And join us tomorrow for another last minute gift idea for Jesus. Perhaps it is not that hard to give something to Christ this Christmas.
Dave Burchett is an Emmy Award winning television sports director, author, and Christian speaker. He is the author of When Bad Christians Happen to Good People and Bring'em Back Alive: A Healing Plan for those Wounded by the Church. You can reply by linking through daveburchett.com.