What Jesus Got for Christmas

Sunday, January 6, 2008 |

"On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me.." This is one of the most common song about the 12 days of Christmas.people who have no exposure to the Church Year Calendar will not understand why Christmas have 12 days, they may understand the part about giving gifts, but they have no idea why the gift-giving lasts 12 days. To them Christmas is one day—December 25—not 12, and that is the day to give presents.

The Epiphany, the Theopany

Well, if we were to count from December 25 to January 6, one would find that is a total of 12 days. So what’s so special about January 6? That is the day, not December 25, the ancient church celebrated as the most important day of the year (next to Easter), because on that day the Messiah appeared to the Gentiles, the Wise Men. Just as the season of Advent preceding Christmas reminds us of the coming of Christ at his birth, so the appearance of Christ to the Wise Men reminds us that God was in Christ fulfilling his promise to save the whole world. The Wise Men were only the first installment in God’s gracious plan to reclaim the mankind for himself. January 6 is the day the Church chose to celebrate the coming of the Wise Men, and they called it Epiphany, the Greek word that means "appearance" or "manifestation". There is another Greek word that has long been associated with that one, and it is Theophany, which means an "appearance of God". All through the Old Testament God appeared to various individuals in human or physical forms, and there is reason to understand those as appearances as the Son of God, prior to his coming as a baby in Bethlehem. Looking back from Old Testament appearances God was encouraging Jews and Gentiles alike to look forward to the day when he would finally appear as the Messiah to take away the sins of the whole world. So Epiphany is the celebration of the supreme Theophany. That appearance not only includes Christ’s baptism, but it also includes his powerful ministry to save the world.

The Magis

In Christian tradition the Magi, also known as the Three Wise Men, The Three Kings, or Kings from the East - although it is not said in the Bible how many Magi there really were - are sometimes considered to be Median, perhaps Iranian Zoroastrian priests, who were also proficient in astrology from Ancient Persia. The Gospel of Matthew states that they came "from the east to Jerusalem" to worship the Christ, "born King of the Jews". According to Matthew, they navigated by following a star which came to be known as the "The Star of Bethlehem". As they approached Jerusalem, Herod tried to trick them into revealing where Jesus was, so that he might be put to death. Upon finding Jesus, the Magi gave him three highly symbolic gifts: gold, frankincense and myrrh. Because three gifts were recorded, it is traditionally said to have been three Magi, though Matthew does not specify the number.

Christ's Presents

Gold . A familiar carol says it so well. “Born a King on Bethlehem’s, Gold I bring to crown Him again.” .. As Gold is the symbol of wealth, and power, and excellence. Isn't that We still give gold medals and trophies to those who achieve great things? Our wealth, signifies the investment of our time and the application of our abilities. Our “gold,” whether it’s money or some other entity, shows what’s important in our life. What we do with our “gold” reveals what we hold to be of greatest value. It was important to the Magi to find the Savior of the world, and when they found him they honored him with their substance, that gold that speaks of his royal authority. Therefore When Jesus receives Gold, its meant that he is "King"

Frankincense. “Frankincense to offer have I; incense owns a Deity nigh.” In the Bible, incense is a symbol of prayer and worship, for it was offered along with the sacrifices of the sanctuary. . When the Magi offered incense to the Christ child, they were acknowledging that they knelt in the presence of the holy. It was no mere earthly ruler who had come to birth in Bethlehem, but a heavenly one, the Son of God. How the wise men understood this we cannot tell, but they did, and their gift shows it. And so they came, worshiping — bending theie knees, falling down before the Christ, perhaps bowing in awed silence in the presence of a divine mystery they could not fathom. When the magi gave Jesus this present, it meant to say, that Jesus is Holy, as he is "God".

Myrrh. What kind of a gift is this for a newborn — myrrh, a spice used in preparing a body for burial? Death is usually the furthest thing from our minds when welcoming a new child into the world. Yet, somehow, the Magi knew that this child of Bethlehem was destined for death — not in the massacre of King Herod, who murdered many innocent children in trying to wipe out this threat to his rule, but death on a cross bearing the sins of the world. Somehow they understood what would happen to this child, and their understanding was perhaps confirmed when they saw the reaction of the Jerusalem leaders to the news they brought of the birth of a ruler. And so they came, kneeling in humility before a King, kneeling in worship before a God, and kneeling in sorrow before a Savior who would one day give his life for them. Myrrh being given to Jesus meant that those who are born will die, and that Jesus for the love of the world shows he is Human.