Seeing and Worshipping Our God in a Manger
Christmas is a wonderful time as believers get to relive that scene in the Stable, at the Manger, with the Shepherds and later, with the Wisemen.
As the Shepherds, we come eagerly, knowing that it is only Christ's blood that is our hope. We come unstoppably like the Wisemen, knowing that we have one goal, and that is we have come to worship Him.
Come to The Manger
- Like the Angels we are ascribing glory to Christ.
- Like Mary & Joseph we are adoring His beauty.
- Like the Shepherds we are bowing in utter unworthiness before our Wonderful, Merciful Savior.
- Like the Wisemen we are casting treasures at His feet.
And what does Matthew record as the first mention of reaction to Christ? Worship.
Shortly after the birth of the Messiah, Magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem and inquired of king Herod where the real king of the Jews was to be born. The theologians of Herod's court knew the Scriptures well--in 'Bethlehem' they recited. Ironically, though they knew the Scriptures, they did not believe them! They did not even bother to travel the five or six miles to Bethlehem to see their Messiah.
But Herod believed the Scriptures! That is why he sent a corps of butchers to Bethlehem to slaughter innocent children, in hopes of destroying this rival to his throne. But he was too late. The magi had come and gone and Jesus was by now safe in Egypt.
And the Magi believed the Scriptures. They had traveled several hundred miles to worship this Babe. They were guided to Bethlehem by a supernatural celestial phenomenon--and by the Scriptures. Apparently, their ancestors had been instructed by Daniel the prophet about the coming Messiah. When they saw the child, they fell down and worshiped him. This was God in the flesh. They could do no other.
Giving Their Worship
And they gave him gifts--gold, frankincense, and myrrh. This was an unusual present--by any standards. The gold, of course, we all can understand--but the frankincense and myrrh were odd. Perhaps they had read Isaiah's prophecy that "nations will come to your light, and kings to your rising . . . They will bring gold and frankincense, and will bear good news. . . " (Isa. 60:3, 6). This explains the frankincense, but not the myrrh.
Now myrrh, like frankincense, was a perfume. But unlike frankincense, myrrh smelled of death. In the ancient world, it was used to embalm a corpse. Jesus himself would be embalmed with this very perfume (cf. John 19:39).
If the magi were thinking of Jesus' death when they brought the myrrh, they no doubt knew of it from Daniel's prophecy (9:24-27). In the ninth chapter of Daniel we read that the 'Messiah will be cut off' and this 'will make atonement for iniquity' and ultimately 'bring in everlasting righteousness' (9:26, 24).
Even at the birth of our Savior, the shadow of the cross is already falling over his face. . .
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