December has brought us excitement and anticipation as we look deeper into the meaning of the nativity and the central persons of Advent, such as Mary and Joseph, who sacrificed their reputations and comforts to follow the call of God to parent Jesus. And, the shepherds, whose presence in the Advent of Jesus reminds us of the fact that every person is worthy of being included in God’s wondrous story.
So, today, on the eve of Christmas, we’re going to take a look at three significant figures that had the honor and pleasure of welcoming our Savior Jesus Christ. These men took a journey into the unknown to find the promised King bestowing upon our Savior precious gifts. The magi’s journey took them to great lengths and significant risks to worship the newborn King.
Foreign Kings from Distant Lands
“The kings of Tarshish and of the isles will bring presents; The kings of Sheba and Seba will offer gifts. Yes, all kings shall fall down before Him; All nations shall serve Him.” Psalm 72:10-11 NKJV
The magi were the final group to welcome the Messiah. They were also referred to as the three wise men who came from the east. This small group of men represented all kings and all nations. The Holman KJV Study Bible states, “The kings of Tarshish and of the isles shall bring presents: the kings of Sheba and Seba shall offer gifts.” This verse gives us a list of far distant places. Tarshish represents Phoenicia, Sheba represents Arabia, while Seba could be somewhere in Africa. The point is that all people and all nations will bow and serve our Savior Christ the Lord.
Their journey began by following a star, which led them to Jerusalem and into the courts of King Herod, ruler of Judea. In Matthew 2:2, we learn the magi asked, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him.”
Unbeknownst to the magi, their inquiry sent King Herod into a panic. He felt threatened by the promise of a Messiah and the desire of the magi to find the newborn King to bow down and worship Him. Due to his extreme jealousy of the Messiah, he encouraged the magi to find the newborn King and report back to him the location of this young Child. King Herod stated he also wanted to pay his respects to the newborn King.
The Search for the Messiah
As the magi went in search of the new King of Israel, the star they had observed in the east reappeared and led them to the Messiah.
One can only imagine this inconceivable yet remarkable journey. These men unknowingly gave of their time, resources, and knowledge. They prepared gifts of great wealth for the newborn King. They left their homes, country, and lives behind to travel for months in the unknown territory to find the Messiah and pay their respects. The magi boldly trusted God’s call to them and without hesitation answered His call.
The magi unknowingly risked the wrath of King Herod when they inquired about the birth of Jesus. They again risked their lives when King Herod requested them to return to him with the whereabouts of the Messiah once they found the young Child.
“9 When they heard the king, they departed; and behold, the star which they had seen in the East went before them, till it came and stood over where the young Child was. 10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceedingly great joy. 11 And when they had come into the house, they saw the young Child with Mary His mother, and fell down and worshiped Him. And when they had opened their treasures, they presented gifts to Him: gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
12 Then, being divinely warned in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed for their own country another way.” Matthew 2:9-12 NKJV
When the magi came upon the young Child, they fell down and worshipped Him. Reflect on these words for a moment – the magi worshipped the young Child. They bowed down in adoration, respect, honor, and love. Then, the group presented distinct and unique treasures worthy of a king to the Messiah.
The Believer’s Bible Commentary describes the meaning of the gifts in Matthew 2:11, “The treasures they brought spoke volumes. Gold is a symbol of deity and glory; it speaks of the shining perfection of His divine Person. Frankincense is an ointment or perfume; it suggests the fragrance of the life of sinless perfection. Myrrh is a bitter herb; it presages the sufferings He would endure in bearing the sins of the world.”
The symbolism of the gifts and the reference found in Isaiah 60:6 illustrate the love and devotion for our Savior Jesus Christ. Reflecting upon these words, what gifts are you presenting to the Messiah this Christmas? Perhaps the gift of praise and worship, being fully present, or offering your gifts in service to others? It does not matter the size or the expense, God calls us to give our time, talents, and love to those around us. I hope the words of Matthew 2:11 encourage you to give back this Christmas season in honor of our Savior.
A True Encounter
After the magi worshipped the Messiah, they prepared to return home. Before leaving, they were warned in a dream not to return to Herod, so in their obedience, the magi traveled home by a different route. The Believer’s Bible Commentary tells us, “No one who meets Christ with a sincere heart ever returns the same way. True encounter with Him transforms all of life.”
My friends, I can assure you from my own journey that your life will be transformed once you encounter our Savior. My question for you, are you ready?
This wondrous day, Christmas Eve Day, I encourage you to read and reflect on the meaning of Matthew 2:1-12.
This Christmas season, how will you respond to the good news of Jesus’ coming? Will you worship Him as the magi and shepherds? Will you share how Jesus has brought hope, love, healing, and renewal into your life in this season?
I pray you will choose to worship our Savior and place Him above all else.
“Glory to God in the highest,
And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!”